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KKR pacer Sakib Hussain’s rise is a story of ambition and grit

New Delhi 

The scintillating performance of pacer Sakib Hussain in the finals of the Indian Premier League 2024 from the winning team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has given a fresh talent to the Indian cricket is the story of aspirations and grit.

From practicing on his father’s small farmland in Gopalganj, Bihar, to playing at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, where he became a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, the young cricketer has overcome innumerable challenges.

Saqib Hussain’s passion for cricket made the KKR buy him for Rs 20 lakh in the IPL auction in March. It was big money for the young Saqib whose mother sold her jewelry to fund her son’s passion.

When the Shah Rukh Khan-owned KKR won the IPL for the third time this year, accolades were showered on Gautam Ganbir, mentor, and Shreyash Iyer, captain of the team, Also. KKR was appreciated for giving a fresh face to the Indian Cricket – Saqib Hussain.

Sakib with his parents (Left) and with Shahrukh Khan holding the IPL trophy (right)

The 19-year-old Sakib Hussain started his cricket journey at a young age. He played in the neighbourhood with a tennis ball, which is lighter. His speed and aggressive mentality impressed everyone in the domestic circuit. He is a right-arm fast bowler 

Saqib Hussain’s life was so far mostly spent in extreme poverty in Gopalganj. Despite his limited resources and hard circumstances, he did not lose heart and continued playing.

In his profile story on the website of the KKR, SaKib Hussain says, “We are farmers; my father used to farm, from which he got some income, but when he suffered from knee pain and had to discontinue farming, the conditions at home became worse. I used to get Rs 500-700 for playing a cricket match with a tennis ball, but it was also difficult to buy shoes to play. The price of the shoe was Rs 10,000 to 15,000

Sakib had shown promise as a bowler and was ready to put in the hard work to chisel his skills as a bowler in domestic competitions. On Sakib the KKR website says, “…KKR has always a reputation for unearthing special young talents and they have similarly backed Sakib when they picked him in this year’s auction. Despite not having many stats to his game, KKR has backed Sakib purely based on what they have seen in him.

Saqib Hussain’s father narrated the story of his struggle.

Sakib Hussain with M S Dhoni

He said, “I was a single earner when this trouble came, so I had to think about providing the basic needs like food for the family. At the same time. people told me that my boy bowls very fast, so I told Saqib not to worry about expenses and focus on cricket.

Saqib Hussain’s mother said that one day Sakib started crying. He said that without proper shoes he may not be able to play cricket. “I took out a piece of my jewelry and told him to sell it to buy a shoe,” she said as tears of joy trickled down her face.

Sakqib Hussain’s career started like every second or third boy in India who plays cricket in the street, neighborhood, or at local competitions. Saqib’s skills were honed by a local coach Tuna Bhaiya, who is not alive to see his protégé do well today.

Sakib remembers Tunu Bhaiya and can never forget his contribution in shaping his life.

Sakib Hussain‘s parents

Besides, he also remembers Robin Singh also helped him a lot. Saqib says, “Robin Bhaiya taught me the difference between a tennis ball and a leather ball. He taught me how to control the leather ball.”

Sakib’s career got a new direction in Tuna Bhai’s Cricket Academy (Tuna Giri Cricket Academy). Saqib said that ‘Late Tuna Bhaiya was very impressed after watching my bowling, he asked me to come to his academy, then when I went there, he told me that you should not play with a tennis ball but with a leather ball. This improved my bowling a lot. Then I got an opportunity to play in the Bihar Cricket League (BCL) in Patna and impressed by my performance there, I got an opportunity to represent the Bihar team in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy.”

Sakib Hussain was noticed as a special talent in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy where his performance brought him into the limelight. He also took two wickets each against Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in his first match. He secured a place in the Coach Behar Trophy for the 2020-21 seasons after his performance in the U-19 tournament.

In the U-19, he caught 21 wickets in four matches. Thereafter, Sakib was selected for the National Cricket Academy camp in Bangalore. KKR, Mumbai, Delhi, RCB, and Chennai got interested in him after seeing him bowl during the Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

After that, the netballer was selected for the Chennai Super Kings team where he met Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly. They praised his bowling.

In a recent interview, Sakib Hussain said that he never thought that one day he would be playing cricket with people whom he used to watch only on TV.

He said, “It is nothing short of a dream to bowl to Rohit Sharma sir, Virat Kohli sir and MS Dhoni sir. My dream is to bowl to Virat Kohli sir and help my team win. I bowled at 145 km at that time; today it’s 150 per hour but I hope to take it beyond 150.”

Saklib Hussain relaxing during IPL

Sakib has also been a netballer for Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals He talks about his memories of how he met Dhoni for the first time and then Dhoni spoke to him in Bhojpuri and Hindi.

Yes! It is also an interesting story that when Sakib Hussain’s name did not come up in the first round of the IPL auction, he was disappointed and did not check the list for the second round. That is why Sakib Hussain called his coach Robin Singh and promised to work harder. he was not aware that KKR had already bought it in the auction.

KKR scouts for for anonymous faces who can be made heroes of the future. An example of this is Renko Singh of Aligarh.

For this, KKR experts judge the enthusiasm and passion of the player rather than the statistics. It was a very special day for Bihar cricket fans as after Ishan Kishan and Mukesh Kumar, another Bihar Lal made his IPL debut.

As soon as the news spread that evening, his village was wrapped in celebrations with drums started playing all over. There was a flood of people outside Sakib’s house.

Sakib Hussain is from Gopalganj and Indian cricket team fast bowler Mukesh Kumar is also from the same city. Sakib said, “I am not only inspired by Mukesh Bhaiyya, but he also loves me as his younger brother. He always guides me, be it bowling or fitness.”

Sakib says he always banks upon Mukesh Kumar for advice and support. He always helps me.”

Sakib is also thankful to Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) and its president Rakesh Tiwari, for his unflinching support. Interestingly, Sakib Hussain continues to possess the batting kit provided to him by the BCA.

He says, “I will always be grateful to BCA, where I am today, Rakesh Tiwariji also has a big part in it.” He says he him Tiwari for the first time while playing in a local tournament in Gopalganj. “I bowled and he told me that he would help me in any way. It’s because of him that I got my first-ever batting kit from BCA.”

Saqib Hussain’s father, Ali Ahmed Hussain, a resident of Dargah Mahalla in Gopalganj, says that his son has started enjoying the fruits of his hard work.

“He is a very worthy child, he knows what difficulties we have faced; he knows so much about hardships of life, and how we struggled. I pray that his cricket journey be very long.”

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