Excelsior Sports Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 20: Former Test cricketer Irfan Pathan has been instrumental in honing the skill and talent of young cricketers of Jammu and Kashmir during his tenure as mentor of J&K’s senior team for last two consecutive seasons. He played a vital role in bringing mental toughness and inculcating self-esteem in youngsters.
It is Irfan who shaped careers of promising youngsters like Rasikh Salam, Abdul Samad, Shubham Singh Pundir and likes by plotting a design to help Rasikh and Samad to play for IPL teams and wear prestigious Ranji Trophy Captaincy crown to stylish Pundir.
Though, Pathan is not with J&K team this season but his magic is still working for Jammu and Kashmir as young Mujtaba Yousuf, who attributes his success to the ‘Sultan of Swing’ (Irfan Pathan), has been called by the Mumbai Indians for selection trials.
It is on the back of his impressive performance for J&K T20 team in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, backing by Irfan Pathan and sheer-dint of hard work that this19-year-old left-arm medium pacer has been called up for trials by Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians.
Mujtaba who hails from Bijbehara town of South Kashmir, the native place of J&K’s first IPL player Parvez Rasool, showed extraordinary bowling skills in the tournament and took five wickets in four matches. Apart from taking wickets, he was economical and bowled with nagging line and teasing length to power Jammu and Kashmir to big victories against formidable Uttar Pradesh, equally poised Railways and minnows Tripura.
While talking to EXCELSIOR Mujtaba said that he went straight to Mumbai from Benguluru on Tuesday.
“Is is an ecstatic moment for me to be part of Mumbai Indians selection trials Camp. I achieved this feat because of my sheer-dint of hard work, coupled with application and dedication. Besides hard work, I attribute my success to ‘Irfan Sir’ who bestowed tips to me as mentor of J&K team last season, which is actually the secret of my transformation. His role as mentor was awe-inspiring,” Mujtaba said.
Meanwhile, when contacted by EXCELSIOR and asked about Mujtaba’s selection, Pathan while lavishing praise on the bowler said that Mujtaba possesses all that is required to blossom at the higher levels, adding that he believed in his (Mujtaba’s) ability from the word go.
“As a mentor, my job was to produce International stuff from J&K. With the grace of Allah, I succeeded in my mission. Whether I am with J&K team or not, but I will always be ready to help JK cricketers,” Pathan maintained.
It was observed that during Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament, the representatives of various IPL teams were witnessing the matches at all the venues across India and Bengaluru was no exception.
Mujtaba owing to his magnificient bowling impressed everyone and was called for trials by Mumbai Indians.
In the tour opener against Karnataka, Mujtaba was not included in J&K playing-XI but once included he bowled exceptionally well. His bowling spells- 8/1 in 4 overs with 2 maidens against Tripura and 14/3 against Uttar Pradesh in 4 overs including the wicket of Suresh Raina, were delight to watch.
It is pertinent to mention here that Mujtaba was also recently part of Kolkata Knight Riders as net bowler in UAE for recent IPL edition.
Mujtaba has previously been part of India junior camps and had made his senior debut for J&K last season.