LEFT-ARM SPINNER Iqbal Abdullah has decided to shift base from Mumbai and will be representing Kerala as a professional player during the forthcoming domestic season. The 26-year-old, who made his debut for Mumbai in 2007 and has appeared in 47 first-class matches for his adopted state team, has cited a sense of insecurity with regards to a fixed place in the playing XI as the main reason behind his move.
Mumbai cruised to their 41st Ranji Trophy win last year, and Abdullah made a strong comeback to the side in the business end of the season.
His eight-wicket haul-5/35 in the second innings-played a huge role in the quarterfinal triumph over Jharkhand. But still, the seasoned spinner feels that it didn’t assure him a concrete spot as a playing member of the side. According to Abdullah, that’s been the running theme of his career with Mumbai for most parts.
“I was picked and dropped despite doing well. It’s happened for quite a few years. That meant that mentally I never felt secure. Despite doing well, I had to constantly be in fear about whether I will be part of the team for the next match? There was no assurance. If you do well and then not get picked, it hurts a lot,” Abdullah tells The Indian Express.
In an era where Mumbai have struggled to find a settled spin attack, Abdullah has been a constant presence, and in his time has snared 142 scalps at 29.60 apiece.
He’s also been a stubborn customer down the order and has often bailed his team out of tricky situations.
At Kerala, the comfort of having a fixed place is something he’s looking forward to the most. And he still very much has his sights set on his ultimate goal.
“At least I will be getting a chance to play more games. There will be security, which is what builds confidence in any player. Kerala might not be a high-profile team like Mumbai but still I will make the most of being a professional player and win games for them. My dream is still to play for India one day. I have been part of India A teams before too and you never know what lies ahead,” he adds.
It’s learnt that the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has accepted Abdullah’s request and he has been granted the required ‘No Objection Certificate’ to make the move to Kerala.
Abdullah originally hails from Uttar Pradesh and his sole reason to come to Mumbai was to pursue a career in cricket. He was then a part of the India U-19 team that won the junior World Cup in 2008 under Virat Kohli.
Abdullah was part of an India A tour to England in 2010 when they played two matches against West Indies A. He’s also been a sought-after pick in the IPL, and had an impressive season with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as they reached the final. And to play for another team in domestic cricket was not an easy decision, he insists.
“Mumbai has given me a lot. It has a great sporting culture. The decision was not taken in haste but I felt that it was time to look for other options. When Kerala came calling, I just couldn’t say no,” he explains.
Thakkar moving too
Abdullah won’t be the only new addition bringing in a Mumbai flavour to the Kerala dressing-room this season. Veteran and journeyman opener, Bhavin Thakkar, too will be playing for the team that finished a disappointing fifth in Group C of the Ranji Trophy last year. Thakkar too feels like he got a raw deal from Mumbai.
“I played the semis and finals last season and this year I am not part of any squad picked for the off-season camps. It was a clear indication that they no longer need me. As a player, you just want to go out there and give your best, whether it is for Mumbai or Kerala, and I look forward to getting a lot more games there,” said the 34-year-old.