Three hours, 14-0-89-0: Rashid Khan: Expectations and art of patience
"We will be ruthless." These were the words of Ajinkya Rahane ahead of the Afghanistan Test. And the Indian cricket team walked the talk. Shikhar Dhawan led the charge in the first session as he never let Rashid Khan bowl in a particular spot. Rashid, who has mastered the art of bowling numerous dots in T20s, couldn't curb the batsmen with the red ball.
The wicket had just a little for the spinners but Rashid was supposed to create an impact irrespective of the wicket. Him not picking up a wicket was one lighter story, but him not bowling even a single maiden in 14 overs of Test cricket was the bigger story. Dhawan and Vijay had ample time, maybe their batting made it look that way, to play him on all sides of the wicket.
14-0-89-0 wasn't expected out of Rashid. Maybe Rashid was expecting a cautious approach from Dhawan. But the latter chose to unleash his flashing blades.
Rashid did manage to beat Dhawan on a couple of occasions. One such instance, a desperate Rashid and Afghanistan did go for the DRS for an LBW decision, but it didn't go their way.
For someone who is known for his accuracy despite being a wrist spinner, Rashid was totally off-colour on his maiden day at the Test arena. He leaked runs on both sides off the wicket. He had a chance to make a mark post-Dhawan's exit in the second session but then India again were ruthless.
Vijay took over from Dhawan.
Shuffling deep back into the crease, Vijay whipped one towards wide long on for a four. It induced a flurry of errors. Short ones, full tosses and repeat the same. Rashid was up against Vijay, who had played only a single game in the IPL, with a few fielders protecting the fence on the leg side.
Soon, an ordinary Mujeeb replaced Rashid.
It felt as if Rashid was rushing through his overs. Maybe, the crowd chants got the better of him. He was probably expecting a wicket off every ball. His mannerisms suggested so. There were "oohhs" and "aahss" after every proper defensive stroke. Every nudge from Vijay probably gave Rashid the feeling that he was close to getting a wicket. But it never happened.
In T20s a dot is great. In Tests, building up pressure is a key element. Rashid failed to build the pressure element. Rather, Dhawan never allowed Rashid to enter 'The Rashid Zone'. For the Afghan, it was just walk back, bowl and get whacked by Dhawan. It's just Day One in Test cricket for Rashid and he would know better that patience is a crucial factor in Test cricket.
The rain break, an hour after lunch on day one will probably give him time to rethink his strategy.