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EXCLUSIVE | Cricket is My Life, I Try to Balance My Bowling With Batting: Rashid

Devadyuti Das |April 23, 2019, 12:26 PM IST
EXCLUSIVE | Cricket is My Life, I Try to Balance My Bowling With Batting: Rashid

Rashid Khan was a fairly unknown quantity when he arrived in India to turn out for the Sunrisers Hyderabad with a price tag of Rs 4 crore in 2017. Since then the leg-spinner from Afghanistan has become a household name especially in T20 franchises all around the globe.

Barely a month after being picked for the IPL, Rashid earned a ticket to Caribbean Premier League as well followed by call ups to the Big Bash League down under and the Pakistan Super League. It’s easy to forget that the leggie is just 20 years of age but already has 164 T20 games under his belt from which he has 246 wickets at a phenomenal average of 15.06.

The beauty of Rashid is that he has not only performed in different leagues around the world, but has done them in vastly different conditions. In fact his ODI stats make for even more impressive reading — 57 games, 123 wickets and an average of 15.

In this season as well, Rashid is the joint leading wicket-taker for the Sunrisers with 9 wickets in 9 games along with Sandeep Sharma. He has a terrific economy rate of 5.61 and average of 22.44.

He might have become a T20 superstar in the last couple of years, but Rashid still credits IPL for changing his life.

“2017 was the start and everything changed from there. IPL is a format where if you perform, you will be renowned throughout the world. There are only top quality players and teams here and doing well here gives lot of confidence,” Rashid told CricketNext.

“The team (Sunrisers) supported me a lot, gave me lot of belief from the day I first arrived for the IPL. That was what I needed at that time. I wanted to show off my skills and they helped increase my self-belief. That’s where everything started, by performing in every match."

Unlike a lot of other mystery spinners around the world, Rashid has only focused on his leg-spin. He believes that varying the pace on different leg-break deliveries has been the key to his success over the last couple of seasons.

“In last couple years, I have learned to bowl leg-spin with different pace. Sometimes the wicket helps and other times it doesn’t, so the speed on the delivery needs to be different according to the conditions. In nets, I try to bowl leg spin with two or three different grips and it helps during the different match situations. When my stock delivery doesn’t work on a pitch, I try to bowl it with a different action. I always try to mix things up,” Rashid, who has a best of 5/3 in T20 cricket, said.

Another aspect of his game which is under-rated but very useful is his batting. In his ODI career till date, Rashid has a strike-rate of over a 100 and aspires to play the role of a finisher in the near future.

Rashid’s all-round effort — 34 off 10 balls with the bat and 3/19 with the ball — set up SRH’s win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL Eliminator last season.

“Batting came naturally to me. I was a batsmen first and then a leg-spinner, so that aspect always fascinated me. Cricket is my life, so the amount of time I devote to my bowling, I try to give to batting as well.

“We don’t have any other job. So I try to balance both. I am trying to improve my batting as much possible. The teams (SRH and Afghanistan) needs me as a finisher now and hopefully I can fulfill that role. Batting is very important for me,” Rashid, who ended up as the joint wicket-taker for SRH last season with 21 scalps, said.

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Immediately after the IPL, Rashid will report on duty with Afghanistan as they continue their preparation for the 2019 World Cup. On Monday, Rashid was picked in the 15-man squad for the Afghanistan team.

“We’ll try to play good cricket in the World Cup — the kind of cricket we played in the Asia Cup. We want to replicate that, we pushed all the top teams in Asia Cup and we want to do the same. We’ll try to play good and positive cricket. We have to give our 100 per cent and try to perform under-pressure. If we can do these two things, we’ll be very happy,” he said.

Afghanistan will open their campaign against Australia on June 1 at Bristol.

The young Afghan leggie is not intimated by any batsmen in world cricket, whether it’s Andre Russell, AB de Villiers or Virat Kohli.

“I don’t feel intimidated by any batsman. If I bowl well, no one can go after me but if I bowl badly I’ll get hit. My effort is to always stick to my plans and perform to the best of my ability,” a confident Rashid said.

Finally, asked about his most memorable moments in IPL till date, Rashid said, “I have a couple of best moments — my first IPL wicket (RCB’s Mandeep Singh in very first over in 2017) was really special. Then last year against KKR, where my all-round performance helped my team win the Eliminator and reach the IPL final.”

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