Yusuf on fast track to the top

2009-04-06 00:00

JUST a few weeks ago, Yusuf Abdulla was planning his off-season after a gruelling season with the Dolphins in domestic cricket.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and the Dolphins slinger has made his international Pro20 debut, snared the wicket of Ricky Ponting and impressed Tom Moody sufficiently to win a playing contract in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

“Ya, it’s amazing how quickly things have changed over the last month,” Abdulla said yesterday.

“I got the call from Tom over the weekend. Jerome Taylor from the West Indies is injured, so Tom said he was keen for me to come in because I knew the conditions and he was impressed by what I did for South Africa.”

So sudden has been his rise, the bustling Abdulla has hardly had time to reflect on his exploits with the Proteas.

“I just remember being nervous coming into the game, because obviously it was my debut and against Australia,” he said.

But all the hype and buzz from the capacity Centurion crowd was put aside when he got hold of the ball.

“To be honest, once you start bowling you forget about the crowd and even who you are bowling to,” he said.

“You are in a zone, and all I was trying to do was hit my areas as often as possible. After I beat Ponting with the first ball, I just aimed to hit the same spot again and the ball just went away from him a bit and that was that.”

That was then, but now Abdulla will be rubbing shoulders with the world’s best in this month’s IPL extravaganza.

“It helps knowing that I have played in all the venues, and there will also be six games for us [Kings XI Punjab] at Kingsmead,” he said.

Abdulla, from Dundee, but whose career really started to take shape under the auspices of Rob Coutts in the local academy from 2002, now stands on the brink of a major payday, but he insists that is the last thing on his mind.

“To be honest I didn’t even think of that when Moody called. I am just grateful to have the chance to prove myself against the best in the world. Whatever comes from there I will deal with at that time.”

It is ironic that after years of a serious lack of left arm pacemen in South Africa, the Proteas now have three eager young guns pushing for higher honours.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell may be ahead after landing national contracts recently, but the Dundee Express knows he is not far away from the big time.

“It was a massive honour to make my debut in the Pro20, and I was just happy to even be training with the cream of South Africa’s cricket,” he enthused.

“But now that I have been there once, I want to do my best to get back in again. There are guys who are similar to me, but as long as I perform to the best of my ability I will be in with a chance,” he added.

The domestic season is now over and though Abdulla would have had designs on a few weeks in the relative calm of Dundee, he has had to shelve those ideas.

Instead, he will be going toe to toe with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Hayden and Sachin Tendulkar in cricket’s richest event.

After his recent exploits, and with conditions sure to favour the swinging new ball, the Dundee Express may be building up an even bigger head of steam yet.

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