Abid waiting for his days in Indian cricket

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Srinagar:A 20-year-old express paceman from a humble background in troubled Indian Kashmir is aiming to become the first from the Himalayan outpost to play international cricket.

Abid Nabi, a tall and well-built bowler, has already caught the eye of the selectors and team management, who hope to have found an answer to fiery pace bowlers Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan and Australian Brett Lee.

Nabi was asked to bowl at the national team's nets during the second Test against England in Mohali earlier this month after impressing selector Bhupinder Singh, a former India seamer.

Skipper Rahul Dravid, coach Greg Chappell and other senior players too have had a look at him.

"Everyone was impressed with my bowling. Venkatsai Laxman, who I bowled to a lot, praised my speed and swing," said Nabi, who has grabbed 40 wickets in 10 first-class matches so far.

Nabi, picked for a Cricket Club of India (CCI) XI in England's opening practice game in Mumbai last month, bristles with confidence and loves to intimidate.

"I have always wanted to be a fast bowler and love to see fear in the eyes of batsmen I bowl at," said Nabi, who is reported to have touched a speed of 147 kilometres per hour.

"My aim is to bowl at 150 but also use skills like reverse-swing to get wickets."

Nabi wants to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Kapil Dev.

"He (Dev) is my idol. I want to become like him, swing the ball the way he used to," the Kashmiri cricketer said.

Dev, known for vicious out-swingers, retired in 1994 with a then world record of 434 Test wickets.

"I am confident I will play for India sooner rather than later," asserted Nabi, positive after seeing the selectors back pacemen Shantakumaran Sreesanth and Munaf Patel in recent Tests.

"Their inclusion (in the England Tests) makes me optimistic. I may be part of the Indian team this year itself."

None from Kashmir has represented the country and it has little presence in domestic cricket even though the game is very popular in India's northern most state. The population is just 10 million out of the national total of 1.1 billion.

"If I can make it, it will send a positive signal to players back home," said Nabi

Nabi, who has had stints at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and the Madras Rubber Factory (MRF) Pace Foundation in Chennai, has a steely resolve.

"I always urged him to study hard and try to get a government job," said his father Ghulam Nabi Ahangar, a mason by profession.

"He never listened to me and just wanted to play cricket. Being a poor man, I never wanted him to dream big and get disappointed. But I think he has started getting rewards now," he said.

Nabi's coach Mansoor Ahmed considers his ward as fast as anybody else.

"He has that fire needed in a pace bowler and can bowl really, really fast."

India's chief selector Kiran More too considers Nabi an India prospect.

"We called him to the nets to assess his fitness and give him the guidance of the support staff. It is important we groom young prospects," said the former India wicketkeeper.

"Some of us are impressed by him and want to see him mature a little before he gets to play for the country."

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