Karim Sadiq keen to impress his hero Virender Sehwag

Afghanistan, Sadiq says, have come a long way from the starry-eyed team of 2010.

Afghan players want to catch the eye of IPL teams, says Sadiq.


Colombo: The last time he played against India, Karim Sadiq was so overwhelmed he couldn't sleep for two nights leading up to the game. The Afghanistan opener is referring to the 2010 World Twenty20 match in the West Indies. Memories of that game have been revived as Sadiq's team again open their campaign against India on Wednesday.

"It was the first time Afghanistan were playing in the World Cup and that too against the star-studded India team; it was a dream I had lived from my childhood. I didn't sleep for two nights and three days because of happiness," recounts Sadiq. 

While it was just another game for MS Dhoni and Co, a fixture to tune up for bigger battles ahead, Sadiq trudged into the playing arena, feeling like a zombie. An early morning start didn't help things for the anxious opener. "I hadn't slept a wink as the thought of the game kept playing in my head. In fact, I cried in the morning as I knew I was not in a condition to do well, and prayed to God to give me strength. In fact, to keep going, I had four cans of energy drink," says Sadiq. 

"I went through the match feeling very lethargic, and got out for a duck. For me, the score didn't matter, it was about the occasion. With the game done, the nerves automatically calmed down, and I slept for 16 hours straight! "That was our first match against a top cricket nation and it was the first game which was being televised live in Afghanistan."

Changed times
The star-struck Afghans proved easy meat for the Indians, but this time, Sadiq promises, it would be a different ball game. The 28-year-old, the senior most player in the team, is keen to prove a point in this re-match. Apart from looking for an upset, he is keen to impress his hero, Virender Sehwag.

"In Afghanistan, mujhe Sehwag ke naam se jaante hai (People know me as  Sehwag in Afghanistan)," he says. "In West Indies, everyone took the opportunity to meet their favourite India cricketers. I missed meeting my hero because Sehwag did not play in the tournament."

As luck would have it, just then Sehwag walked into the hotel lobby, and Sadiq immediately walked up to his idol. Later, Sadiq revealed, "I told him 'I have modelled my batting on yours', and he said: 'So, you are doosra Sehwag'. I told him 'you will get the proof in Wednesday's match. Then you tell me whether I play like you or not'."

More professional
Afghanistan, Sadiq says, have come a long way from the starry-eyed team of 2010. They have played a lot of international matches, including many that were telecast live on TV, and that has helped them develop into a more professional unit.

Expectations have gone up too: "Afghanistan's total population is 30 million and 29 million are waiting for this match and praying for our success. People understand the game better now and so the expectations are high. We don't want to leave empty-handed this time."

"We have a lot of confidence that we are in with a chance to qualify for the Super Eights by beating either India or England (the third team in Group A)."

"Our country has been ravaged by war for 30 years. We want to do our bit to give people a reason to smile."

The cricket team apparently has even won over the Taliban. "We play for the name of the country and Taliban supports anyone who does that."

What if he's once again struck by bouts of anxiety? Sadiq laughs. "That match was at 9.30 am. This time it is a day-night game. Even if I suffer a sleepless night, I will have enough time to catch up."

His big ambition? "We want to do well here and catch the eye of IPL teams."

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

On Now: Kolkata vs Bangalore

On Now: Kolkata vs Bangalore

IPL 7, GAME 11—Bangalore bowl, Murali in, still no Gayle. KKR bring in Umesh, Lynn. More »

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

Kolkata bowling vs Bangalore batting might

The likely return of Gayle will boost Bangalore, but the result could be determined by Kolkata's bowlers. More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gambhir a knock away from striking form - KKR coach

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

Rivals say Srini group delaying BCCI special general meeting

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

April 24: A legend is born

As Sachin Tendulkar turns 41 - here's a look at some offbeat moments from the Master Blaster's innings. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Moin appointed to manage Pakistan team

Pakistan on Monday reappointed Moin Khan as chief selector and manager of the national team, a week after fellow former captain Rashid Latif turned down… More »

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

Chennai smash Delhi for first win

IPL7, MATCH 8—Raina-led middle order, superlative catching give CSK a 93-run win. More »

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

'BCCI reputation lowest in 80 years'

The former BCCI president says he was "disillusioned" by the happenings at the emergent working committee meeting on Sunday. More »