Form giving up studies to picking wicket on ODI debut: Inspiring story of Shahbaz Ahmed | INDvsSA

Xtra Time Web Desk: It was ‘Jaanbaz’ effort from Shahbaz Ahmed as he impressed one and all in his debut ODI at JSCA stadium in Ranchi against the Proteas. The left arm spinner displayed a disciplined bowling and picked the wicket of Janneman Malan to make a fine start to his international career.

Stand in captain Shikhar Dhawan introduced the left-arm spinner in the first powerplay and got his reward as he dismissed a well-set Janneman Malan for 20. It took him only two overs to get off the mark in international cricket. Eventually his spell read 10-0-54-1.

More than his impressive debut, the story of Shahbaz Ahmed is an awe-inspiring one. Shahbaz, who hails from a middle-class family in Palwal, bunked his classes in third year to play cricket. He was so passionate about making a career in cricket, he shifted to Kolkata from Haryana, where he stayed in 12*12 room, all for the love of the game.

He was initially labelled ‘outsider’ and even thought of coming back after he was banned from playing cricket. He was allowed to play only after an investigation conducted by Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).

Shahbaz started playing in the second division, and one day he was introduced to Partha Pratim Chowdhury by former Haryana cricketer Pramod Chandila. Impressed by Shahbaz’s skills, he helped him to get into Tapan Memorial Club and gave him shelter in his residence.

A string of impressive performances in local club cricket did not get unnoticed as he was soon drafted into the Bengal squad. He was instrumental in Bengal reaching finals of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy. The all-rounder scored 509 runs with the bat and bagged 35 wickets with his left-arm spin. In the 2021-22 season, he scored 582 runs and bagged nine wickets in five matches.

A big turnaround came in Shahbaz’s career when he was drafted in by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Under the guidance of Mike Hesson and rubbing shoulders with stalwarts like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, Shahbaz became more mature as an all-rounder.

In his three years stint at the RCB, Shahbaz became one of the pillars of the franchise and has shown prowess as an all-rounder.