Mujeeb Ur Rahman confuses England at the Kotla with carrom ball, off-break, and googly in his arsenal as Afghanistan wins by 69 runs.
Joe Root is undoubtedly England’s best spinner in the Indian subcontinent this century. Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, on the other hand, was taken aback by a simple technique. Root came out and faced him on the full in their early exchanges to become used to his dishonesty. Mujeeb went along with it. When Root gains confidence, he prefers to play spinners off the back foot, with the turn and utilizing his deft hands to stub out any threat.
But he lost the fight of skills and wits to Mubeeb here. He slipped in the off-break — his change-up ball, which rushed him through the gate to hit the stumps. Mujeeb had released the ball from a slightly lower trajectory, thus the ball stayed low. He also has an unusual grip, holding the ball between his thumb and forefinger. As he throws the ball with a wristy flourish, he uses his middle finger as a hand rest. Later, his stock ball, the carom ball, would consume Harry Brook, before the googly, which he floats more than other varieties, nailed Chris Woakes.
28 (16) with the bat ⚡— ICC (@ICC) October 15, 2023
3/51 with the ball 🔥
Mujeeb Ur Rahman wins the @aramco #POTM for his stellar all-round display that helped Afghanistan stun England in Delhi 👏#ENGvAFG | #CWC23 pic.twitter.com/K6Jossq96S
He is categorized as an off-spinner, yet he rarely bowls off-breaks. In self-introductions, he corrects the assumption. “Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, mystery spinner from Khost, Afghanistan,” he characterized himself in an introduction video for his previous Big Bash League squad. In a separate interview with the Sunrisers Hyderabad channel, he questions why he is classified as an off-spinner and adds, “Call me a carrom-ball spinner.”
It’s an apt description, because he primarily bowls carrom ball and gets the majority of his wickets with this finger-flicker. Mujeeb is not only an obsessive carrom-ball player, but he is also one of the ball’s best executioners. The majority of bowlers use it as a variation, change-up, or novelty ball. But Mujeeb uses it all the time, not only because it’s the only ball he has, but also because it’s the best. Why not call him a carrom-ball bowler, like his buddy Rashid Khan, or a googly-bowler, or an off-spinner, or a leg-spinner?
In addition to Root, notable right-handed victims include Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. In brief, Mujeeb operates on the inverted reasoning that batters are bothered by balls that leave them but do not return to them. The batsman is especially perplexed by the fact that he has a comparable grip for both carrom ball and wrong’un. He holds the ball between his index and middle fingers, with the middle finger acting as a cushion beneath the ball, before propelling it in an anti-clockwise manner. The principles for the wrong’un are the same, except that the release is from the back of the hand. There are other little hints. The wrong’un is floatier and thus turns more rapidly than the carrom ball.
He also bends more and has a somewhat lower release point. Most batsmen, though, look for indications in his grip and come up empty-handed.
More varieties that he employs infrequently include the under-cutter, a reverse under-cutter, and an in-swinging yorker with an angled seam and a little faster motion. In a Brisbane Heats video, he described how he produced all of these variations: “My first coach is YouTube.” I learned how to bowl the carrom ball by watching Ashwin, Narine, and Mendis. Then I’d practice those a thousand times at home or with my friends. Then I started experimenting with different grips and releases and gradually mastered the variations,” he explains.
But, no matter what variant he develops in his bowling lab, he only uses it in a match once he has perfected it. It’s no surprise that his desire for experiments is only equaled by his accuracy. He rarely bowls short or full, and he never bowls on the leg-side; instead, he always tries to land the ball off-stump or just outside it. “There isn’t much room for error when bowling wide, so I tried to bowl wicket-to-wicket,” he explained after his most memorable World Cup performance.
This is a lethal combination of accuracy, ferocity, and variety. As he describes himself, he is a mystery spinner. Root would agree as well.