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Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar of the Mis Ainak Knights is the youngest cricketer to be shortlisted for the IPL 2023 auction. He is almost younger than the league.

On September 13, 2007, with the first World T20 going on in South Africa, the BCCI announced a new Twenty20 tournament called the Indian Premier League. The cricketing fraternity, still unsure of what to make of the format, followed the news with lukewarm interest.

It is very unlikely that anyone would have predicted that a two-month-old Afghan boy would become part of the league. Yet, when the shortlist of cricketers for the 16th edition was announced on December 13, 2022, it featured Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar, Afghanistan’s teenage prodigy, draws inspiration from a certain R Ashwin and his variations.

While classified as an off-spinner, it is perhaps prudent to call Ghazanfar a right-arm finger-spinner. His bowling is similar to Mujeeb Ur Rahman. He rose through local Under-16 cricket (he is not 15 yet), and was soon picked up by Asghar Afghan’s Mis Ainak Knights.

He had Samiullah Shinwari of the Boost Defenders caught behind on his Shpageeza Cricket League during a spell of 4-0-27-1. In his second match, he opened bowling and wrecked the Hindukush Stars with figures of 4-0-15-4. His third match, against the Kabul Eagles, was the Eliminator of the league.

Given his obvious talent, a call-up in an overseas league was only a matter of time. That break came during the Pakistan Junior League. It was an age-level tournament – but the conditions were still unfamiliar. He had a chastening experience, but that did not discourage the IPL franchises from shortlisting him for the IPL 2023 auctions.

While his base price, INR 20 lakh, may tempt one of the franchises at the auction, his age may convince them to invest in him long-term.