Rashid Khan: A Modern-Day T20 Great
An overview of how the Afghanistan legend creates an impact in all aspects and phases of the game in T20 cricket.
Here’s a look at the highly sought-after Rashid Khan and why his trade is admired so highly around the world.
A global superstar. 536 T20 wickets. Master of all Trades. A serial winner at 24. The youngest to captain an international side. Fastest to 100 wickets in ODIs and T20Is. ICC Men’s Player of the Decade in T20Is. T20 titles around the globe. So, what makes Rashid Khan so special?
Not many players around the world have had a magnitude of impact comparable to Rashid Khan. Born in Afghanistan, Rashid spent his early childhood in Peshawar, where his family lived as refugees. As a kid, Rashid played with his brothers, where the oldest batted first, and the rest followed in that very order. Rashid’s turn would be sixth, and on many occasions, he bowled tirelessly for hours. For Rashid and his brothers, cricket was a source of thrill and entertainment. Like many young boys in Peshawar, he idolized Shahid Afridi, someone his game is heavily based on.
In all fairness, Rashid is among the best players ever to have featured in the format. Life, however, hasn’t been all easy for the leg spinner. Being the most in-demand cricketer in leagues around the world has had its toll on the superstar. His character, though, has ensured that he grows stronger from such experiences. Despite losing his father while playing the BBL in 2018, Rashid decided to continue playing a part in the Adelaide Strikers’ campaign to honor his late father. Two years later, he lost his mother, who, in his own words, shaped the person he is today.
Right, so in cricketing terms, what makes Rashid Khan’s leg-spin stand out from the rest? To start with, it’s his ability to dominate in all phases of the game. His strength perhaps lies in the middle phase of the game, but his numbers in the powerplay are noteworthy too. In recent times, captains have held him back to bowl in the death as well, where he fares remarkably well.
Interestingly, leg spinners are renowned for having off days. Their trade is such that they’ll give you a wicket-taking option at the risk of conceding runs. Remarkably, Rashid has shown unbelievable consistency around the world, reflected by his economic wicket-taking ability. His PSL numbers are prolific, and for the sake of keeping this piece crisp, we’ll focus more on his showings for the Lahore Qalandars in the league.
Throughout the early days of the PSL, the Qalandars languished at the bottom of the table. Their fortunes, however, have changed exceptionally in the last two editions. Rashid’s role in that has been significant, being the enforcer in the middle overs. Rewind to the PSL final in March, where Rashid helped his side clinch back-to-back tournament wins. In a game where the average scoring rate was 10 RPO, he picked up 2/26 in his four overs, including the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan and Rilee Rossouw: unarguably two of the opposition’s key batters. His overall numbers in the PSL, too, paint a similar picture. In PSL history, Rashid has the best economy rate and bowling average.
Rashid’s impact on the Qalandars is immeasurable, but to put it in words, the 24-year-old has had a very instrumental role in their success. In the recently concluded campaign, he starred with the ball, picking up 20 scalps. In ESPNCricinfo’s Impact rankings, Rashid had the most impact wickets in the tournament, frequently picking up important scalps at crucial junctions of the game.
Rashid’s prowess with the bat, too, is often overlooked. In the death overs (17-20) of T20s, he strikes at 162.5. As a lower-order slogger, he provides teams balance at the back end of an innings. Besides, his fielding is undoubtedly an asset to any side as well, with his boundary-riding ability among the best in the world. The back story to that, too, is fascinating. As a kid, given the age difference, Rashid would only get to field in games his brothers played.
Despite Rashid’s success around the globe, he hopes to stay grounded. In his own words, “Never change, stay humble. You can get your form back, your money back, but once you lose the respect of someone, it is hard to get back.” Rashid hopes to inspire future Afghan generations to take up the sport as he hopes to fulfill his biggest dream of winning a world title with Afghanistan. Regardless of how his career pans out, the Afghan hero has certainly written an inspirational story.
The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.