Naveen-ul-Haq takes chance with the new ball

T20 WORLD CUP, 2024

Naveen has had a major influence on Afghanistan's success.

Naveen has had a major influence on Afghanistan’s success. © AFP

Afghan fast bowler Naveen ul Haque volunteered for a chance to bowl the new ball and grabbed it with both hands. The right-arm pacer is in the spotlight after bowling his side to their first World Cup semi-final as his heroics helped Afghanistan beat Bangladesh.

Naveen, who took a break from ODIs after the last World Cup to concentrate on the shortest format, single-handedly snatched the game from Bangladesh’s jaws by dismissing the last two batters Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman with consecutive deliveries to help them earn an eight-run victory over their Asian neighbours.

However, it wasn’t the only time he made an impact on the match as he decided to prove his worth with the new ball after removing opener skipper Najmul Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan with successive deliveries in the third over, adding some credence into the Afghan camp after they made only 115.

Those two wickets in the powerplay were certainly a huge relief for Naveen, who had asked for the new ball from his captain Rashid Khan ahead of their match against Australia and repaid the faith by getting two wickets – Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh – before he was removed. Aston Agar will play a huge role behind their historic victory over the Aussies, which was overshadowed by the brilliance of Gulbadin Naib.

Until then, Afghanistan had the likes of Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, Mohammad Nabi and Azmatullah Omarzai in the tournament with the new ball. The absence of Mujeeb, who is known to be willing to bowl with the new ball, certainly seemed to have an impact on the overall balance of the bowling unit.

Cricbuzz understands that the Afghan team management had debates over the new pair of balls when Mujeeb was out of the picture. Naveen, who had picked seven wickets coming in as first change (apart from the match against West Indies where he came on as second change bowler), had approached the captain before the match in Australia to bowl with the new ball and the move worked.

“Yes bhai, it’s true (I wanted to bowl with the new ball),” Naveen told Cricbuzz after the match against Bangladesh. West Indies legend Dwayne Bravo, who joined the Afghanistan team as a bowling consultant ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup, admitted about the development while speaking to ICC and seemed impressed by Naveen’s courage to adopt the new ball grab and throw.

“Impressive to watch was Naveen ul Haq. There was a little discussion about who should bowl the first over in a game and who should bowl the new ball and he raised his hand. He chose that he wanted to bowl the first over and he picked everyone to bowl and he did exactly what he said he was going to do and not many people can do that,” Bravo said in a video uploaded by ICC.

“That’s a special talent and a special gift to have the talent and the confidence of ‘hey, I wanted a new ball and I’m going to go around the wicket and I’m going to do this’ and it happens,” he said. .

The Afghanistan team management would like to see Naveen shine with the new ball when they take on South Africa in the semi-final as well to ensure the fairytale continues.

© Itch