February 12, 2013

'I am angry every time I bowl'

Shapoor Zadran talks about cranking himself up, his favourite bowler, and playing in the BPL

Shapoor Zadran was a virtual unknown in Bangladesh when he first began playing for Khulna Royal Bengals in the BPL. Since then, his intimidating speed, bounce and stare have won over fans, and brought comparisons with another speed merchant. Zadran has also acquainted himself with a new country, team-mates and playing culture.

How did the BPL get in touch with you?
It happened all of a sudden. I was in a training camp in Pakistan when the Khulna owner, Salman Karim, called me. He asked me to join his team, and I asked him: "How does that happen? I don't even know you."

He mailed me the details, and I came over to Bangladesh. I never thought I would play in the BPL. But here I am. It is a matter of pride for Afghanistan.

You have been taking the wickets of some really good batsmen here, bouncing and beating them often.
I have played in two T20 World Cups, in 2010 and 2012, and these tournaments have given me a lot of experience. The first time I felt pressure was in the 2010 tournament. So by now the pressure is out of my system and whoever I face, it could be Dhoni or Sehwag, I wouldn't feel pressure. I have Allah with me, so I bowl with that in mind.

Do you say anything to batsmen after you bowl a bouncer?
I am angry every time I bowl. A bowler has to be angry, so that his reaction can carry over to the batsmen, who get unsettled and end up making a mistake.

Bowlers work the hardest, more than the batsmen. We have to do extra training, swimming, and we need a lot of stamina.

How did you come to cricket?
I used to play at the Arbab Niaz Stadium and Gymkhana in Peshawar. I started playing with the hard ball in 2001. I thought I would play for Pakistan one day, but the situation with the officials wasn't good. Then Iqbal Sikander, who used to bowl legbreaks for Pakistan, started coaching Afghanistan, so I went there.

I went a little mad when I saw 500 players at a trial. I said to myself, "Shapoor, it is impossible that you will break through from these 500 players!" I prayed to Allah that I must play for the team. I gave my trial, and I was among the top 50, then the top 25. I was very happy, so I called my family to give them the good news. They were so surprised. I hadn't told them why I was going to Afghanistan - I said I had some work there and went to the trial secretly.

Do they support your cricket career?
Not at first, but now my mother, father and brother, they all do. They watch me play on TV, and they're watching me now, playing in the BPL. They all sit together and watch me on TV, and they are very happy that I represent Afghanistan. People there are very happy that four Afghanis are playing here.

How did you train when you first started playing cricket?
I didn't have a coach when I started playing. In Peshawar, I started to play under Rahmat bhai, who played first-class cricket in Pakistan. He gave me some idea about bowling. Slowly I caught on. In 2008, Kabir [Khan] came along and my bowling started to improve immediately.

Is Wasim Akram a hero?
Wasim Akram is a legend. I salute him.

My favourite bowler is Shoaib Akhtar. I really respect him a lot. I am cross with him for retiring. I followed him very closely. I have never talked to him, although I have met him twice. I feel nervous when I see him, you know. Inshallah, I will speak to him and take tips from him about speed, find out where his speed came from. Speed comes naturally to me but there are exercises that one must do to improve it. So I will ask him what he did to increase his speed over the years.

Is playing the 2015 World Cup also a target?
We have been having a training camp in Lahore for the past two months, playing T20s and one-day matches against a team there. We have been building towards the 2015 World Cup, which we will hopefully qualify for. Playing in Australia would be great for me, because the wickets offer a lot to fast bowlers.

How has it been in Bangladesh - your first time in the country?
I like it here. I will definitely play here again, you can take my word for it. In Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna, there have been so many people at the ground. I felt nervous playing in front of so many people. The crowd has been really amazing for me. I've been wondering: if there are so many people for a BPL match, what happens when the national team plays?

Have you made any friends in the Khulna team?
I have grown fond of Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, and our manager, Rony. They are all very nice people - the foreigners and the Bangladeshi players. I talk to everyone, spend time with them.

Mohammad Nabi has said he has adjusted to the food here. What about you?
The food here is fine but a little too spicy for me. We don't eat spicy generally. The fish and chicken are great. The seekh kabab is great.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ani on February 15, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    Shapoor is great! I'm a Bangladeshi. I love Afghanistan Cricket team very much. I think all Bangladeshi loves Shapoor, Nabi, Hamid like me as they served in BPL very well, even more than some world class players. All Afghans in BPL showed their class.

  • Dummy4 on February 14, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Playing in BPL will give Shapour and other Afghan players like Hamid, Nabi and Sami a massive experience. I hope they buy Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib and Hamza Hotak too. these games will do nothing but improve us to challenge for higher ranking. Thanks to Bangladesh Cricket Board for giving us chance.

  • Mondrita on February 14, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Personally, I really like the Afghani team and support them. Thanks, Shapoor, for coming to BD and playing for us. You really freak out batsmen with your energy, and encourage teammates. Best of luck for the future.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    very nice we proud to you

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 14:23 GMT

    thanks zadran for supporting us

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    All the best Shapoor. Wishes from Dhaka.

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Nicely put @777aditya. Cheers for the positive comment.

  • Azooz on February 13, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    Shahpoor is a roaring Hindukush Loin. Shahpoor should work more on seaming the ball more and he is a world class bowler no doubt. @Mattew Richards you are right they lack 1s and 2s and playing the ball on the ground.

  • Azooz on February 13, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    Shahpoor is a roaring Hindukush Lion. Shahpoor should on seaming the ball more and he is a world class bowler no doubt.

    @Mattew Richards you are right they lack 1s and 2s and playing the ball on the ground.

  • Vikram on February 12, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    He must be deeply in love with cricket to move from Pakistan to Afghanistan!