Are we about to see Paul Pogba in the IPL? You haired it here first

If you think you spy Paul Pogba during this year’s IPL you may actually be right.

Well, in a way.

For Nitish Rana, the hard-hitting Mumbai Indians’ batsman, likes to style his hair on the Manchester United midfielder’s, especially during the world’s premier domestic T20 tournament.

The 27-year-old left-hander’s secret is revealed by Rashid Salmani, who has become the go-to man for many Indian cricketers and overseas players in the IPL – perhaps whenever they need something to distract from middling performances.

For Salmani, your hair is his canvas and he will happily adapt something from the top footballers and glamorous fashion icons around the world if that is your wish.

Pogba has become renowned for his variety of unusual mullets as much as for his skills in the Old Trafford engine room. One football writer observed that his hairstyle is an extension of himself, with some of his favourite causes etched into his head – giving a whole new meaning to a highlights reel.

Salmani started to style Nitish’s hair in 2016 along with that of leg spinner Yuvzendra Chahal and more recently, Rahul Tewatia and Shubman Gill, India’s new Test opener.

He told “Nitish is a huge fan of Manchester United and he likes experimenting with hairstyles as well. He likes Paul Pogba and, initially, he would ask me to style him like that.

“I would never copy his style directly, but I took ideas and would recreate something. Rana is inspired by Paul Pogba and David Beckham a lot. I know Nitish’s taste, so I do his hair accordingly. I take inspiration from them and then work around to add something to it and try to create something.

Salmani admitted his career had reached “another level” since taking on the celebcricketers and now numbers Faf du Plessis, the former South Africa Test captain, and Trent Boult, the New Zealand left=arm quick who joined Mumbai for last year’s IPL, among his clients. “I remember the first time I styled Trent Boult’s hair, I had to do it at 3am,” he said. “The match had ended late, so he called [me] to his room to get his hair styled personally.

“And I love Faf du Plessis’ hair. He also prefers getting it done by me. So, whenever he is in India, he gives me a call to come and do his hair. The last time when South Africa had to come to India for a tour in March 2020, the series was called off due to Covid. Faf had called me and I went to do the hairstyles of all the South African players.”

Salmani would not reveal what Nitish would be sporting for this year’s tournament, which starts on April 9, but judging from Pogba’s back catalogue he is spoilt for choice.

The Frenchman has previously worn the half and half – one side dyed and the other left plain; the over achiever – a slick mowhawk with blond highlights and shaved sides; the Pogboom – his name carved into the sides; the Batman – sketched into the head; and the blonde buzz cut and the leopard print – both self-explanatory.

Having learnt during his master’s degree from top stylists working with glamour models, Salmani revels in bringing out the personality of his clients, so it will be fascinating to see what he comes up with for his most recent customer for it’s hard to imagine how the unique combination of flamboyance and innovation of this man can be contained on merely one head: it’s Rishabh Pant.

Broadcast Schedule

England v Ireland ODI series
ENG v IRE 3rd ODI, County Ground, Bristol
26th September
Start time: 12:30 pm BST