Friday, 07 May 2021 08:15 GMT

How IPL stars from Afghanistan found a friend in Dubai

(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) When Amaan Haider, a Dubai-based Indian expat who works at VFS Global and has carved out a niche for himself as an Urdu poet, went on a business trip to Kabul in 2016, he had no idea that his time in the Afghan capital would mark the start of a beautiful journey in cricket.

No, Haider hasn't ditched the ‘mushaira' for the cricket field after his Afghan sojourn five summers ago.

He's still the poet whose magical flow of words have often left the connoisseurs of Urdu poetry drooling across the world.

But it's the poetic heart of Haider that struck a chord with Mohammad Nabi, one of Afghanistan's most famous cricketers who is now playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2021 Indian Premier League.

'I first met Nabi through a common friend while I was in Kabul. He loves poetry and we hit it off, Haider told Khaleej Times.

'Our friendship has grown over the years. Now not just Nabi, even Naveen ul Haq, their pace bowler, and Mujeeb ur Rahman (who is also playing for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL), have also become very good friends.

Now for this season's IPL, Haider also helped Nabi and Mujeeb with their paper work for the Indian visa.

'They were in the UAE playing for the Afghanistan national team recently. So they applied for the Indian visa here only. Also, Nabi, Mujeeb and Naveen went with me to the VFS Global for their UK visa as they would be playing in the hundred ball league (The Hundred) in the UK, Haider said.

Haider holds a special place in the hearts of these Afghan cricketers who often share their moments with him on their verified Twitter handles.

'Look, some people might think that they are only Afghan cricketers. It's not a big cricket country. But they are very successful cricketers. When we go out in Dubai, people recognize them in the streets and ask for selfies, Haider said.

'And Nabi is among the world's best all-rounders in ICC rankings. Mujeeb is one of the best young spinners in the world. They play in the IPL, which is the biggest T20 tournament. But they are so humble. I love them because of their kindness. They treat me like their own brother, said Haider.

'In fact, I injured my leg in a freak accident recently. They came over to check if I was alright.

So, has Amaan Haider, known as Haider Amaan Haider in the literary circle, also met Rashid Khan, the most famous Afghan cricketer in the world?

'Yes, I have. I can't say he's my friend unlike the other three because I have met Rashid only a few times. But what I can tell you is that he is an amazing person. Very humble, Haider smiled.

Now these humble cricket stars have invited Haider to attend Afghanistan's matches at this year's T20 World Cup in India.

'If the Covid-19 situation improves by then and if the fans are allowed, I would definitely love to attend their matches, he said.

'Look, I am a very proud Indian and I love my Indian team. But Afghanistan is now my second team because of these lovely and humble cricketers.

Rituraj Borkakoty A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers. Click/tap here to subscribe to Khaleej Times news alerts on Telegram. Article Script start


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