This Afghanistan cricketer played for India, became Bollywood star, ‘Casanova’ had rumoured affair with top actress
This cricketer from Afghanistan played for the Indian cricket team and then became a Bollywood star, who worked with Tanuja and Parveen Babi.
Afghanistan cricket is in vogue after their shock World Cup win against defending champions England at the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup. Led by performances from Rahmanullah Gurbaaz and Rashid Khan, the Afghan team trounced an out-of-luck English side in Delhi. While the history of the Afghan team in cricket is fairly recent, cricketers from Afghanistan have played international cricket before that too. And one of them did so for Team India, that is before he became a legit movie star.
The Afghan cricketer who played for Indian cricket team
Salim Durani (also spelled Durrani) was a flamboyant all-rounder from Afghanistan who played Test cricket for India in the 1960s and 70s. Born in Khyber Pass on the Afghan-Pak border, Durani’s father was also a cricketer who impressed the legendary Ranjitsinjhi with his performances in the 1930s. As a result, the Durani settled in India. Salim grew up in Jamnagar and made his debut for Saurashtra in 1953, going on to play domestic cricket for Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 1960, he made his debut for India and went on to play 29 Tests till 1973.
A dashing left-hand batter and left-arm spinner, Durani scored 1202 runs and took 74 wickets in Tests. Despite his obvious talent, he was overshadowed by the spin quartet of Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, and Venkatraghavan, with whom his career coincided.
Salim Durani’s Bollywood career
In 1969, while he was still actively playing for India, Salim Durani made his Bollywood debut with Ek Masoom opposite Tanuja. The Khalid Akhtar film also starred Jagdeep, Abhi Bhattacharya, Prem Chopra, and Helen. Despite Tanuja and Durrani’s popularity, the film failed to do wonders at the box office.In 1973, as his cricket career was on a decline, he returned to the big screen with the film Charitra opposite Parveen Babi, the reigning glam queen. Tabloids at the time were filled with rumours of the two stars romancing each other. However, Durani denied these reports and said they were never in love or never had any secret affair. After Charitra did not work, Durani did not again try his hand in films.
Durani continued plying Ranji Trophy for four more seasons when he retired at the age of 43. After his playing career, Durrani retreated from the game. He was awarded the C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award by the BCCI in 2011. Durani passed away after battling cancer in 2023. He was 88.
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