Meet Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran: The first 21st century born male cricketer 

Mujeeb Zadran of Afghanistan, who debuted against Ireland in Sharjah on Tuesday, became the first 21st-century born male player to feature in international cricket.

Published: 08th December 2017 02:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2017 08:07 AM   |  A+A-

Afghanistan bowler Mujeeb Zadran (Twitter/#MSDhoni #MSDhoni‏)

Online Desk

He was two years old when  Shoaib Akhtar clocked the fastest ball in the history of cricket, six when Australia completed their hattrick World Cup glory,  ten when his country received ODI status and twelve years when Sachin Tendulkar retired from international cricket.

We are talking about Mujeeb Zadran of Afghanistan, who debuted against Ireland in Sharjah on Tuesday, became the first 21st-century born male player to feature in international cricket.

The sixteen-year-old right-arm off break bowler wasted no time to make an immediate impact at the international level and clinched four wickets to help his team to rout the Irish by 138 runs. 

Mujeeb's fantastic spell made him join his teammate Shapoor Zadran, who took 4-24 on his debut against the Netherlands, as the holder of best figures in an ODI for Afghanistan. 

Born on 28 March 2001, he is only behind Ireland women's all-rounder Gaby Lewis in the list of international cricketers born in the 2000s to represent their country on the world stage. 

However, Zadran is still the first representative of this millennium in ODIs as it was in T20I cricket that Lewis debuted against South Africa in 2014.

"The good thing is that when I talked with him that maybe it would be your debut match today, he just gave me a very nice smile and I realized he had confidence. It's good and he showed himself that 'I'm good enough to play for the national side,'"Afghanistan coach Raees Ahmadzai had said after the match.

Mujeeb entered the senior side still afresh from spearheading Afghanistan to their maiden U-19 Asia Cup glory, beating Pakistan in the final. He bagged  20 wickets in the highly-contentious tournament held in Kuala Lumpur, that saw powerhouse India bowing out in the early stage.

Mujeeb had entered the headlines for the first time a few months back when he picked up 17 wickets against Bangladesh to become the highest wicket-taker in a bilateral Youth ODI series. Since then, he had been considered as another Rashid Khan in making and the pundits have been proven right. Nineteen-year-old leggie Rashid is considered one of the finest spinners playing the game today and was hired by IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 4 crores, along with his then national team captain Mohammad Nabi.

Mujeeb Zadran in action against Ireland (Twitter/ICC)

"We are very lucky that we have a good bunch of spinners like Rashid and another option is Nabi and Mujeeb is a young guy," Ahmadzai said. "He was picked for the national side because of what he did at the Under-19 tournament, twice he took six wickets."

Put into bat first on Tuesday, Afghanistan posted 238 for 9 in their 50 overs, before Mujeeb along with Rashid Khan (3-28) wrapped up Ireland for just 100 runs under 32 overs, to go 1-0 up in the series. However, William Potterfield's men levelled the series on Thursday by winning the second match by 51 runs. Mujeeb once again returned with a decent figure of 2-50 in his ten overs. The final match of the series will be played on Sunday.

"Thanks to the senior players and they supported me very well. 

I use the new ball lots of the time in the nets so I have very good control. If I want to bowl offspin or the carom ball or the leg break, we just focus to bowl wicket to wicket," Mujeeb said after the match.

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