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Rashid Khan Leads From The Front as Afghanistan’s Ascent Continues

Image: Twitter

Image: Twitter

Afghanistan went on to register their second Test win against Bangladesh at Chittagong in only their third Test match and while it wouldn’t be fair to call the match ‘The Rashid Khan Show’, the 20-year olds’ fingerprints were all over the success.

Afghanistan went on to register their second Test win against Bangladesh at Chittagong in only their third Test match and while it wouldn’t be fair to call the match ‘The Rashid Khan Show’, the 20-year olds’ fingerprints were all over the success.

Rashid was only recently appointed captain of Afghanistan across formats. His talent and ability to change games has never been in doubt but there would have been some question marks over whether he would be able to exert the same influence in Tests with the added pressure of leading the side.

Yet, any doubts were put to rest as Rashid starred with both the bat and the ball to set up a memorable maiden away Test win for one of cricket’s youngest nations.

He became only the fourth cricketer in history to score a half-century and take a five-wicket haul on his captaincy debut after England’s Sheldon Jackson (1905), Pakistan’s Imran Khan (1982) and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan (2009).

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Batting first, Afghanistan were at 299-7 when Rashid came out to bat. He has demonstrated the ability to score valuable runs down the order and he did it again, in the process helping his side cross the 300-run mark.

He scored a quick-fire fifty that consisted of 2 fours and 3 sixes, helping his side post a commanding 342 on a pitch that would continue to become tougher to bat on.

He then ran through the Bangladesh top order with consummate ease, helping his side establish a 137-run lead in the first innings.

He would go on to score some more useful lower-order runs in the second innings, chipping in with 24 runs – incidentally, all of them coming thanks to 6 fours.

Yet his best contribution came in the second innings. The final day started late due to rain and then saw only 13 deliveries bowled before further showers interrupted the proceedings for hours.

The game finally started but the revised playing conditions didn’t make for good reading – only 18.3 overs were to be bowled.

What’s more, Bangladesh still had 4 wickets in hand and the experienced pair of Shakib al Hasan and Soumya Sarkar in the middle.

Yet the resumption of play brought renewed hope for the tourists as Zahir Khan got Shakib to edge one behind the stumps that ‘keeper Afsar Zazai hung on to.

Rashid, sensing that a result was very much on the cards, went into attack mode. He stationed fielders around the batsmen and bowled himself from one end, alternating between Zahir, Mohammad Nabi and Qais Ahmed at the other end.

He would eventually dismiss Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam and Sarkar to ensure an Afghanistan win – which looked the likeliest result at the start of the day – wasn’t washed away by incessant rain.

After the match, Rashid was all praise for the efforts of his teammates and even made mention of the fact that the Afghanistan Cricket Board have put in place a first-class cricket structure that will only help the team going forward.

“It was a total team effort. The youngsters are learning very quickly and we now have a good four-day structure at home. That’s the best thing done by the cricket board,” he said at the presentation ceremony.

Afghanistan’s Test career is still in its early days and bigger challenges lie ahead; they have yet to play a Test match outside of the Indian subcontinent and their team consists of players who will need to be nurtured before they fulfill their potential.

Yet with a modern-day superstar like Rashid at the helm, it is hard not to be excited at what the future holds for this team.

first published:September 09, 2019, 21:02 IST