Only in the infant stages of his international career, South African left-arm fast bowler Yusuf Abdulla has praised the IPL as a great launch pad. Abdulla, who made his Twenty 20 debut against Australia earlier this year, was rewarded for his outstanding performances in the domestic tournament and for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL with a call-up for the World Twenty20 beginning on June 5 in England.
“I believe in learning wherever I go and the IPL is a good learning curve,” he told SuperCricket. “It would have been hard to make a squad of 15 otherwise; the IPL has helped, it has shown I’m capable of performing at a higher level.
“I was very excited when I heard I had been chosen for the Twenty20 World Cup and it’s definitely still sinking in. It’s a big achievement for me and I can only think the selectors were looking at me in the IPL because I have not played much international cricket, basically just my debut.”
Abdulla, 26, is currently the IPL’s joint second highest wicket-taker with 14 wickets in nine matches. He was called up after West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor was ruled out with injury. Punjab owner Ness Wadia cited Abdulla’s knowledge of his home ground Kingsmead – where the team play six games – as “critical” to success in the IPL’s second season.
After two average games, Abdulla notched up figures of 4 for 31 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, among them the wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Jacques Kallis. His return of 3 for 21 against the Rajasthan Royals made him one of the top five leading wicket-takers in the tournament.
Abdulla said support from his seniors helped him ease into a team of superstars. “The IPL is a big world event and there are a lot of international stars playing, so the level is very high. There were a bit of nerves before my first game,” he said. “I’ve learnt to back myself and the team has really backed me as well. Yuvraj [Singh] is a heck of a good guy and all the stars have been very welcoming. It’s great to have players like that around because it has made it much easier for me. I can rely on their advice and experience.
“It’s been a big step and it hasn’t been easy because the margin for error at this level is very small.”