Photo: BCCI

Abdul Samad showed the world glimpses of his raw hitting power when he deposited Anrich Nortje over the mid-on stands with ease in SRH’s win over Delhi Capitals. The 18-year-old batted just 7 balls but it was evident from the little cameo why Sunrisers made a smart choice at the auction by buying him at his base price of Rs 20 lakh.

Abdul Samad became only the third player from Jammu and Kashmir to play in the IPL when batting coach Brad Haddin handed him the Sunrisers Hyderabad cap in Abu Dhabi.

Samad made heads turn in the last domestic season, amassing 592 runs in 10 matches for J&K in the Ranji Trophy. He hit a season-record tally of 36 sixes and struck at a strike rate of over 100 and played a key role in his team reaching the quarter-finals. Brutal hitting followed in the limited-overs tournaments as well.

‘Learnt a lot from Irfan Pathan’

It was Irfan Pathan, the player-cum-mentor at Jammu and Kashmir, who spotted and groomed the young cricketer from the state.

“I have learnt a lot from Irfan Pathan, sir. We all know how big a player he is. He has been working with us as a mentor for quite some time. He helps us a lot with the batsman’s mentality, match situations and he supports us a lot,” Abdul Samad told Sports Today.

Only 4 players from Jammu and Kashmir have bagged IPL contracts and only 3 of them have gone on to play in one of the most-followed sporting leagues. However, things are changing, according to Samad.

With Irfan Pathan’s guidance, Jammu and Kashmir are doing better than ever and Samad believes at least one player will feature in the IPL from J&K every season from hereon.

“There is no dearth of talent in our state. This is why cricket in Jammu and Kashmir has developed leaps and bounds over the last 2 years. Since Irfan Pathan sir came on board to mentor us, our game has improved.

“I believe, every year, there will be a new player in the IPL from our state,” Samad said.

Jammu and Kashmir is no Mumbai or Delhi when it comes to producing top-level cricketers. The teenager from J&K though displayed tremendous composure in the biggest stage of his nascent career against when he made his IPL debut.

Asked if he was overwhelmed by the occasion, Abdul Samad says the motivation given by senior members of the support staff, VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitharan, helped him conquer his nerves and get the job done in the middle.

“There wasn’t any pressure at that time. I was very excited before the match. I got a chance to play and that’s one of the best moments. When I came into bat, there were 2 overs left. Laxman sir and Muralitharan sir told me to go in and play my game. I was doing just that,” Samad said.

“All that was in my mind was I wanted to score as much as possible and take my team to a good total. I got a big shot out but I want to keep doing well for the team.

“I got a lot of confidence from that shot. It was the last ball of the second last over. After that, I got only three balls. But that shot has given me the confidence to do well in the rest of the tournament.”

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