With cash rich Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 finally set to be held in UAE from September to November, J&K's only cricketer Abdul Samad who is part of the league this season is doing well for his side, Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The league which was earlier scheduled to be held in April was postponed due to global pandemic.
With the International Cricket Council (ICC) postponing this year's ICC T20 World Cup in Australia, the window opened for the holding of the premier T20 event.
As the COVID19 positive cases are on rise in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to hold the entire event in UAE. The players are scheduled to report to their franchisees in India from August 20 after getting a negative COVID-19 test report at their home destination. Later all the players and support staff would have to undergo further Tests with teams and on their arrival in UAE they have to follow SOPs.
This season J&K's only representative in the League would be Jammu based 18-year old hard hitting all-rounder Abdul Samad who was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the players auction held in December last year for Rs 20 lakhs.
He is the only cricketer from Jammu province to get selected for IPL.
Before him Mohammad Mudhasir, Parvez Rasool, Manzoor Pandav and Rasikh Salam were the other four who got picked up by teams while only Parvez and Rasikh got a match to play.
With the league finally getting a go ahead nod, Samad is jubilant and eager to prove his talent to the World.
"It was a little disappointing to see the league getting postponed due to pandemic but that time there was no option left and it was the right decision made by BCCI. Personally I was ready to play and show to the world what I have got and make a name for myself. At that time I was in good form coming back from doing well in Ranji Trophy for J&K senior side," Samad told Greater Kashmir.
Asked about what kept him going during this lockdown period, he said, "Obviously when you see the biggest opportunity that was in front of you getting postponed and there being uncertainty whether that will be held or not it affects you a bit. But then I kept myself engaged with things and also kept my fitness in check. I was confident that the biggest cricket league would be held this season and they would not let the whole season go into waste. Same has happened and we are now ready to play again".
He said that during initial months of lockdown he remained inside but from the last one and half month he has resumed his training.
About being in touch with the Hyderabad Franchisee he said, "They have been in touch with all along. Apart from that we have a group where throughout these months we were kept engaged by giving instructions of what to do and what not. They are keeping check on us so that we can be ready when the league finally starts".
Since breaking into age group level for J&K, Abdul Samad was fast tracked into J&K senior side on the back of mentorship from Irfan Pathan.
Making his debut last season for J&K in List-A and T20's, Samad is known for his big hitting and utility spin bowling. This season he made his debut in Ranji trophy for J&K and went on to score 592 runs in 10 matches. He averaged 39.46 with a strike rate of 113. He scored two centuries and three fifties for the team. Known for his big hitting, he hit 36 sixes in Ranji trophy this season. Apart from that he took four wickets with his bowling. It was mostly on the back of his batting that J&K qualified for the quarter finals of Ranji trophy this season. Even on the day when IPL players auction were held, Samad smashed a quick knock of 78 runs for J&K in Ranji trophy against Maharashtra.
Samad said he is ready for the league and UAE pitches will be helpful for spin and he can be handy for the team with both bat and ball.
"It is a known fact that pitches in UAE are slow and turning and help slow bowlers. I play spin well and in those conditions I can also contribute with the ball for my team," he said.