What makes Rashid Khan the best T20 cricketer in the world
In my first article where I spoke about the threat the Afghanistan players bring to the table, I spoke about Rashid Khan's batting ability and how he can prove to be a game-changer. He gave an exceptional performance with the bat against Kolkata Knight Riders to take his side to the final of the IPL 2018.
What timing it was by the youngster to bring his A-game with the bat, at such a desperate time for SRH, who had come off a heartbreaking loss to CSK just a few days ago.
In the last game itself, it was quite sad to see such a good spell by Rashid go in vain. I'm sure he wouldn't have liked being on the losing side and turned it around in such fashion that he almost single-handedly won the match against KKR.
His bowling aggression was exciting yesterday. He wanted a wicket on every delivery and the discipline and aggression shown were just superb.
When he came out to bat in the 17th over, not much was expected. Everyone who looked at the scorecard was expecting around 150, which would have been a fighting score. Yes, they would have expected some contribution from him, but not such a great contribution, where he just decimated the bowlers to all parts of the ground.
I feel that his performance with the bat last night was one of the high points in this years IPL.
Speaking about his wickets, Uthappa attempted a shot too early, which led to his dismissal. But that is the threat Rashid has created for the batsmen that they try to create ways to counter him all the time. We see batsmen trying to create a new game plan and take on him differently. Chris Lynn, too, tried to sweep him every single ball and while he was successful in the beginning, he was found out after a few deliveries and was dismissed LBW.
The aggression he showed in the game was quite a sight to behold. The confrontational attitude towards a few batsmen and the tactics they displayed were spectacular. The way they got Andre Russell out would have been enjoyed by people all around the world.
What makes him special is that he anticipates what the batsmen are going to do and he works his plan according to that. He knows that the batsmen will try to play him differently and he knows what to deliver and when.
What makes him so special?
The mark of a true sportsman is to learn from one's mistakes and come back strong, and that is exactly what Rashid has done this season. After a couple of poor performances, he turned things around and took matters into his own hands as he bamboozled the opposition batsmen time and again.
In sports, confidence is what is needed, and confidence is what Rashid has. After Chris Gayle took on him in that match against KXIP, he would have doubted himself for sure. However, the exceptional personality that he is, he won't give in. That is what defines him. He will keep searching for answers and searching for ways out. He listens to people around him and also listens to himself and accordingly works out what's best for him.
This was seen in the World Cup Qualifiers as well where his efficiency with the ball was not too good in the beginning, however, he came back strong towards the end of the tournament where it mattered most and led his side to the title and helped secure qualification to the World Cup.
What is great about him is that he himself reflects on his performances by watching videos and changes his style accordingly. He has his own routine where he reflects upon his mistakes and changes his game.
I remember an instance with the Afghanistan cricket team when we were in Zimbabwe for the World Cup Qualifiers. Shortly after a team dinner was announced on our WhatsApp group, I just got ready and walked towards the lift, say about 15 minutes early to just be in the lobby and spend some time talking with boys. I bumped into RK, who was rushing back to his room to change and be ready for team dinner. It turned out that he was coming back from the gym as he had trained for around 40 minutes extra.
I was under the impression that there might have been an S&C program that he must have done in the morning as we had a good 90 mins team training at the ground in Zimbabwe, however, he had spared another 30 mins while others were packing up, just for a one on one single stump target bowling.
The amount of time he spends before and after match bowling at single stump is definitely something. Despite being such a pro, he still does that and that is what defines him as a superstar and shows us the hunger he has within to achieve big.
The last two games have seen relentless execution from his end. His ability to cope effectively, right from becoming the Afghanistan captain at the World Cup Qualifiers, leading his side to qualification, and now leading his IPL side to the final, it shows what a champion player he is. And what is even more special is that he is so humble and down to earth and always grateful for what he's got and to his country.
Best T20 performer in the world today
Honestly, there are no two ways about him being the best T20 performer today. He has made an impact in all three departments of the game, as was showcased in his performance in the 2nd playoff encounter.
This could be the beginning of a rise of one of those all-rounders which teams look out for all over the world. He is self-coached man. He has taken a little bit of guidance from a few senior players but mostly, he has worked hard on himself.
In a way, he is like Virat Kohli - somebody who is tough on himself and wants to improve all the time. Just the way Kohli setting standards for youngsters, similarly, Rashid is setting standards for youngsters not only in his country but all around the world. He is trying to be the game-changer all the time, in all 3 departments of the game.
At one point, we used to talk about players from India and Pakistan, but now everyone is talking about this man from Afghanistan. He has become a role model.
With just one more match, he will be raring to go. It will be interesting to see how the CSK batsmen handle him. SRH might even consider sending him up the order, after his performance last night.
It is a thorough joy to see a success story like this
I am looking forward to the final and it is going to be quite interesting to see the way the Sunrisers Hyderabad make a comeback against the Kings.