Afghanistan cricketers have made their mark in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the years, with players like Rashid Khan becoming renowned match-winners. However, it is Naveen-ul-Haq who has truly stood out for the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the 16th edition of the tournament. The 23-year-old pacer has been a revelation both on and off the field, captivating fans and critics alike.
While some may question his on-field antics and social media posts, which were seen by some as unnecessary, there is no denying the impact Naveen-ul-Haq has had. His fearless confrontation with Virat Kohli, one of the game’s biggest names, speaks volumes about the confidence he possesses at such a young age.
During the IPL 2023 Eliminator between LSG and the Mumbai Indians, Naveen-ul-Haq showcased his prowess by claiming the prized wickets of Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, and Cameron Green. Not only did he excel with the ball, but he also celebrated his successes in his own unique way. Putting both fingers to his ears, he conveyed to the crowd that he remains unaffected by their taunts, a regular occurrence ever since his heated argument with Kohli in Lucknow followed by his social media posts.
Regardless of the venue, every time Naveen-ul-Haq takes the field, he is greeted with chants of “Kohli, Kohli.” However, instead of letting it distract him, he has embraced it and used it as motivation to perform for his team. In a post-match interview after his remarkable spell of 4/38 against MI, Naveen-ul-Haq expressed his enjoyment of the chants, stating that they fuel his passion to excel.
Remaining unfazed by external factors, the young cricketer focuses solely on his own game and processes. He acknowledges that as professional athletes, they must accept both criticism and praise from fans. Naveen-ul-Haq understands that when he underperforms, he can expect criticism, but when he excels, those same critics will chant his name. He considers it an integral part of the game and embraces it with a mature perspective.
“I enjoy it. I like everyone on the ground chanting his (Virat Kohli) name or any other player’s name. It gives me the passion to play well for my team,” he said.
“Well I don’t concentrate on the outside or the noise from outside or anything else. I just focus on my own cricket and my own process. Crowd chanting or anyone saying something doesn’t affect me.
“As professional sportsmen, you have to take this in your stride. When you don’t do well for your team, fans are going to give it to you. And when you do good for your team, (the) same people are going to chant your name. Basically, this is part and parcel of the game,” he added.
Naveen-ul-Haq’s impact on the IPL 2023 has been undeniable. His skills on the field and his ability to handle the external noise with composure reflect his resilience and determination. As he continues to make strides in his career, fans eagerly await more exceptional performances from this talented Afghan cricketer.