Rahmanullah Gurbaz, widely known as Gul, is an Afghanistani cricketer who has made significant contributions to the sport. Born on November 28, 2001, in the Gurbuz district of Khost Province in Afghanistan, Gurbaz has emerged as a promising talent in international cricket. He is a right-handed batsman and wicket-keeper, making him a valuable asset to the team. Gurbaz gained fame for being the first Afghanistani cricketer to score an ODI century on debut. Let’s delve into the fascinating journey of this young and talented cricketer.
Early Life and Inspiration
Gurbaz initially had a keen interest in football during his early years. However, his passion for cricket was ignited when former Afghanistani cricketers Nawroz Mangal and Noor Ali Zadran visited his hometown, where they were received with great enthusiasm. Inspired by the reception, Gurbaz set his sights on a similar future in cricket.
With the support of his friend Qadir Gurbaz, he began playing cricket in his neighborhood, initially with tennis ball cricket. Eventually, Gurbaz and his friends created a makeshift pitch in their field, where they practiced diligently.
Beginnings in Professional Cricket
In 2014, Gurbaz embarked on his professional cricket career, joining the Mohammad Khan Zadran Club. However, his decision to pursue cricket faced opposition from his family, as his father wanted him to prioritize his studies. Despite the lack of familial support, Gurbaz remained determined to become a cricketer.
The Cricket Kit and Supportive Family
During his teenage years, Gurbaz faced a financial hurdle when he desired to purchase a cricket kit. To overcome this obstacle, he struck a deal with the contractor overseeing his family’s home construction.
Gurbaz worked incognito as a daily wage laborer for 17-18 days, earning enough money to buy the cricket kit. When his brother Saadat discovered the source of the funds, he scolded both Gurbaz and the contractor.
Nevertheless, Saadat’s unwavering support became evident when he borrowed money to buy Gurbaz a cricket kit ahead of a Provincial Tournament.
Early Career and Achievements
Gurbaz’s early career saw him representing Mis Ainak Region in the 2017 Shpageeza Cricket League and the 2018 Ahmad Shah Abdali 4-day Tournament.
He also played for Afghanistan in the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup, emerging as the leading run-scorer for his team in the 2018 ACC Under-19 Asia Cup. Additionally, he represented Afghanistan Under-23 in the 2018 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup.
T20 Leagues and Global Recognition
Gurbaz’s talent garnered attention in various T20 leagues worldwide. He played for teams such as Paktia in the inaugural edition of the Afghanistan Premier League in 2018, Khulna Tigers in the 2019-20 Bangladesh Premier League, and Barbados Tridents in the 2020 Caribbean Premier League.
He further showcased his skills in leagues like the Pakistan Super League (PSL), representing Multan Sultans in 2021 and Islamabad United in 2022. In the Lanka Premier League, Gurbaz played for Jaffna Kings in 2021 and 2022.
His debut performances in these leagues were impressive, including a half-century off 19 balls in his Bangladesh Premier League debut, 43 runs off 24 balls on his T20I debut, and 53 runs off 22 balls in his Lanka Premier League debut.
Gurbaz made his international debut in One Day Internationals (ODIs) on January 21, 2021, against Ireland in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a remarkable display of skill and composure, he scored a magnificent century, becoming the first Afghanistani cricketer to achieve this feat on debut. Gurbaz’s knock of 127 runs off 127 balls, including 8 fours and 9 sixes, left a lasting impression on the cricketing world.
He continued to excel in the T20 format as well. In his T20 International (T20I) debut against Zimbabwe on September 14, 2019, Gurbaz showcased his power-hitting ability by scoring a half-century, marking his arrival on the international stage.
He went on to represent Afghanistan in the 2021 and 2022 editions of the T20I World Cup, contributing significantly to his team’s performance.
Gurbaz has displayed exceptional batting prowess in various matches and tournaments. In November 2019, he scored a blazing 79 runs off just 52 balls against West Indies in Lucknow, India. This innings showcased his ability to score quickly and entertain the crowd with his stroke play.
He followed it up with an impressive knock of 87 runs off 45 balls against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and 84 runs off 45 balls against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, UAE.
In the 2022 T20I World Cup held in Australia, Gurbaz contributed valuable runs, including a top score of 30, and played a vital role in Afghanistan’s campaign. He continued to impress with his batting skills and provided stability at the top of the order.
Indian Premier League (IPL) Stint
Gurbaz’s exceptional performances in international cricket earned him a spot in the prestigious Indian Premier League (IPL). In the 2022 IPL season, he was acquired by the Gujarat Titans for the base price of Rs 50 lakhs.
However, he was later transferred to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for the 2023 IPL season. Making his debut as an opener for KKR, Gurbaz showcased his talent with a half-century on April 6, 2023, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), scoring 57 runs off 44 balls.
On April 29, 2023, Gurbaz delivered a spectacular innings against the Gujarat Titans, smashing 81 runs off just 39 balls at a remarkable strike rate of 207.69. This performance not only helped KKR secure a convincing victory but also became the highest individual score by an Afghanistani cricketer in the IPL.
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 29, 2023
Personal Life and Interests
Off the field, Gurbaz maintains a disciplined and focused approach to his life and career. He is deeply passionate about cricket and often cites AB de Villiers as his favorite cricketer, studying his videos to learn and improve his own batting skills. In his leisure time, Gurbaz enjoys reading books, particularly those related to motivation and communication.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s journey from playing tennis ball cricket in his neighborhood to becoming the first Afghanistani cricketer to score an ODI century on debut is nothing short of inspiring. With his powerful batting and exceptional wicket-keeping skills, Gurbaz has become an indispensable asset to the Afghanistan cricket team. His performances in various international tournaments and T20 leagues have earned him global recognition. As he continues to excel in his cricketing career, fans eagerly anticipate more remarkable performances from this talented cricketer in the years to come.