Jammu & Kashmir has a rich cricketing history with them playing Ranji Trophy for the first time in 1959-60. However, it is one of the weakest teams in the Indian domestic season winning a handful of matches played so far. It has qualified for the knockout stages of India’s premier domestic competition in 2001-02 and 2013-14.
Parvez Rasool was the first J&K cricketer who was picked in the Indian Premier League and in the Indian team as well. Other players from the now Union Territory are Manzoor Dar and Rasikh Salam, who were picked by Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians respectively. In the IPL 2020 aution, Sunrisers Hyderabad picked one more J&K player in 18-year-old Abdul Samad, who made his FC debut in December 2019 against Uttarakhand.
Now everyone must be wondering who Abdul Samad is and why SRH went for the youngster in the IPL auction. To quench all your thirst for his knowledge, here are five amazing facts about Samad, the latest J&K entry into the Indian Premier League.
1. His father was an outstanding Volleyball player
Abdul Samad is the son of physical education (PE) master Mohammad Farooq. His father himself was an outstanding Volleyball player and played cricket at club level in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Coming from a humble background, Farooq managed to provide Samad coaching under the patronage of MA Stadium Coaching Centre, and is trained by Sports Council’s Cricket Coach, Randhir Singh Manhas and his assistant Raman Thaploo.
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2. Scored 5 fifties for J&K at U16 and U19 level
Samad has been performing admirably for J&K at both the U16 and U19 levels. He scored a couple of fifties and also took a couple of five-wicket hauls for J&K in the Under-19 national event. Four of five half-centuries he scored at junior level came in less than 40 balls, evidence of his attacking nature of the batsmanship.
Samad is flexible in his batting position and is equally competent at opening the innings or batting in the middle order. He can also tweak the ball if needed, as he is more than a handy leg-spinner with three wickets to his name in national limited-overs cricket.
3. Abdul Samad’s impressive List-A season
Samad came into news for scoring 68 runs in just 53 balls against Gujarat in national 50-over competition Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019-20 at KL Saini Ground in Jaipur. He had hit 7 sixes in that innings, out of which 5 sixes came off the bowlers of international repute.
Piyush Chawla, who was a member of Team India which won the 2011 World Cup at home was hit with disdain for four sixes, while Axar Patel, member of the Indian squad for the 2015 World Cup, was hit for one six. It got him national attention and helped J&K put up a formidable 279/8 in 50 overs.
Overall, Samad went on to score 237 runs at an average of close to 30 with three half-centuries at a strike-rate of 125.39. He was the only batsman to score runs at a strike-rate in excess of 100 for J&K
4. Brilliant Ranji Season for Abdul Samad
His accomplishment came when Jammu & Kashmir defeated heavyweights Maharashtra in their Group C encounter played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. He had managed a duck in the first innings as J&K made 209 runs. But they fought back by bowling out Maharashtra for 109 runs.
But in the second innings, he helped Suryansh Raina (83) and Fazil Rashid (43) with amazingly bold innings of 78 runs in just 89 balls. He hit 10 attractive fours and 3 lofty sixes during his time at the pitch. He was the last Jammu and Kashmir wicket to fall at 263 and helped in setting a target of 364 runs for Maharashtra.
The home team managed just 309 runs as Umar Nazir picked 9 wickets in the match and lost the encounter by 54 runs, handing J&K a big and famous win. This was a big win for them, as they had previously beaten Mumbai in 2015-16 at Wankhede Stadium in what can be termed as an upset.
This wasn’t it for Abdul Samad as he ended the season with 592 runs on in 17 innings with two tons and three half-centuries at a strike-rate of 112.97. His average of 39.46 was also the best for J&K.
5. Picked up by SRH in the IPL 2020 auction at his base price of 20 lakhs
Abdul Samad has gained a lot from India all-rounder Irfan Pathan who joined J&K as a coach-cum-mentor sometime ago and has the luck of playing with the experienced Parvez Rasool. He had made a brilliant T20 debut against Nagaland in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in February 2019.
He had picked a wicket of Nitesh Lohchab as Nagaland batted first and then opened the batting and scored 76* in just 51 balls with 8 boundaries and 3 sixes to his name.
He had entered his name in the uncapped category at the base price of 20 lakhs and was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad for the same price. It will be a learning experience for the young Samad, who can pick the brains of mentor VVS Laxman and has foreign players like David Warner, Kane Williamson, and Jonny Bairstow to learn from about batting at the top and in limited-overs.
Whether he gets a chance in the playing XI during the IPL 2020, remains to be seen; but when and if he gets an opportunity to play, he will definitely aim to make J&K proud by his performance.
6. Abdul Samad makes his IPL debut
Abdul Samad’s dream came true as David Warner handed him his SRH cap ahead of the game against the Delhi Capitals (DC) on September 29, 2020.