Rashid Khan — Afghanistan’s brand new superstar

Rashid Khan — arguably, the most impressive young wrist-spinner in contemporary cricket © BCCI social media

By Atish Home Chowdhury

Making his way into the world of cricket from the strife-torn patches of Afghanistan, a country where the sound of bullets and bombs could be heard louder than the echo of bat hitting a ball, the meteoric rise of 18-year-old Rashid Khan in the gentleman’s game is something to cheer about.

Afghanistan now finds solace in the busy Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. From 2016 onwards, it is the official home ground of the Afghan Cricket team. Since then dramatic shift in Afghanistan cricket from a “minnow” to “wow” began. Much of the credit goes to the young

Much of the credit goes to the young leggie, Rashid Khan. He is bringing so many laurels to Afghanistan consistently over the past two years. Rashid keenly observed the bowling actions of Shahid Afridi in his childhood to hone his bowling skills. However, there is no denying the fact that Rashid is a great turner of the balls that Afridi isn’t.

Rashid Khan’s fairytale journey in the Indian Premier League

The leg-break bowler is not an ordinary spinner. From the very start, he was the legend in the making. In his debut first-class match against England Lions in Abu Dhabi last year, Rashid scalped 12 for 122 while spellbinding the entire stadium with his googlies and flighted deliveries.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) bought him for Rs. four-crore (Base Price 30 Lakh) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction and the rest is history. On February 20 this year, the otherwise dejected Afghanistan, enduring the unfortunate pains of poverty, illiteracy, and violence, erupted into the loud tears of joy when two Afghan cricketers; Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan scripted history by getting IPL contracts.

In his dream IPL debut in the inaugural game of IPL 10, Rashid put up a solid performance of 2 for 36. He claimed the wickets of well-set Travis Head and Mandeep Singh against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Rashid again performed brilliantly by chipping in three key Gujarat Lions batsmen in his next match. The teenager chipped in five crucial wickets for just 55 runs, including seasoned campaigners like Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina, Mandeep Singh and Travis Head in his first two IPL matches.

Interestingly, it has been Rashid who has insisted his captain Warner on giving him the new bowl in the powerplay. The young leggie then went on to claim a wicket in the first over of his spells in four successive matches. Currently, Rashid has 12 wickets in 11 matches in this edition of IPL with an excellent economy rate of 6.78.

Rashid Khan — A superstar In the making

Undoubtedly, Rashid Khan is set to be the next big thing in the world of cricket if he carries on the sublime form and gives a consistence performance as he is doing now. Rashid Khan got a big boost from SRH captain David Warner when the latter claimed that “Rashid is a superstar in the making”.

In one of his recent interviews to ESPN, the youngster explained that “If you work hard and believe yourself, you can reach wherever you want to”. Rashid was recently adjudged Man of the series at Ireland vs Afghanistan T20 series at “home” – Greater Noida with nine wickets to his credit.

His senior colleague Mohammad Nabi remarked “Right from the time he came into the team, he has been very quiet. He is a really nice guy as well. All the time he is just focused on his cricket. Off the cricket field, he is just a silent guy”. Interestingly, it was the same Nabi, who celebrated most when Rashid got his first IPL wicket against RCB this season.

…..and it was Just a trailer, Rashid Khan Era Has Just begun!

Basking in the glory of his recent IPL success, Rashid is overwhelmed at the reactions that he is getting from the people back home. Now, many kids wish to become “Rashid Khan” and represent their nation at international matches.

Basking in the glory of his recent IPL success, Rashid is overwhelmed at the reactions that he is getting from the people back home. Now, many kids wish to become “Rashid Khan” and represent their nation at international matches.

Rashid is well capable to bowl googlies, flipper and conventional leg breaks depending upon his team’s requirement. With an excellent economy rate of 6 and bowling average of 14 in T20Is, Rashid is sure to scale greater heights of success in the coming days at limited over formats games.

Rashid has also accomplished a unique record of 5 for 3 against Ireland in a T20I, which is the fourth best bowling figure in T20I. Currently, Afghanistan are undefeated in their last 10 T20 Internationals (T20I), surpassing England and Ireland’s record of eight consecutive wins in this format, and without any doubt, Rashid Khan has brought Afghan cricket to global map with his 93 international wicket-hauls in just 50 limited-over matches.

Thus, one must feel, the ‘Rashid Khan’ era has just begun.

(Atish Home Chowdhury is a freelance sports writer. He can be contacted via Facebook here.)