The 16th match of the ongoing IPL 2022 is set to take place at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai between the Punjab Kings (PBKS) and the Gujarat Titans (GT). While the new Hardik Pandya-led side have won their first two games, Punjab have two wins and a loss to their name. With both sides eager to bag another win, a cracking contest beckons tonight.
While the Punjab Kings have a good bowling unit, the Gujarat Titans boast a better one. With the likes of Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan in their ranks, the Titans are yet to lose a game in the IPL.
Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has proved his worth time and again in the league. Having played 78 IPL games, the former Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) star has picked 95 wickets at an economy rate of 6.35. So it was no surprise when he was named an early draft pick by the new franchise ahead of the mega auction in February.
Rashid needs five more scalps to join the 100-wicket club in the IPL. While we hope he picks up a five-for tonight, let's revisit his top-three spells in the tournament.
#1 3/19 - SRH vs KKR in IPL Qualifier-II 2018
Although SRH finished as the runners-up, the Hyderabad-based franchise enjoyed a great IPL campaign in 2018. They were asked to bat first by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the second Qualifier. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Wriddhiman Saha stitched together a strong partnership of over 50 runs. But following Dhawan's dismissal, Hyderabad's innings lost momentum. With SRH reeling at 134/6, Rashid Khan walked in and scored 34* off just 10 deliveries, helping his team set a target of 175 for KKR.
With a big total to chase in a high-pressure game, Kolkata sent out two of their best attacking batters Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine to grab some early momentum. They set up an opening partnership of 40 runs before Narine was dismissed.
Nitish Rana was soon run out by Rashid. But the real contest began when the leggie was handed the ball. He got rid of Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill and the lethal Andre Russell even before they could settle, confirming SRH's spot in the final. Rashid was adjudged the Player of the Match as SRH won the contest by 14 runs.
#2 3/12 - SRH vs KXIP in IPL 2020
SRH and Punjab have always had an underrated rivalry. When they first met in 2020 at the Dubai International Stadium, the match went down as a huge triumph for the Orange Army.
SRH won the toss and elected to bat first. As per their plan, David Warner and Jonny Bairstow came out to bat with the intention of building a strong opening partnership. And their plan succeeded. They put up a 160-run stand when Warner was dismissed. With the help of the other batters, Bairstow kept on going and scored 97 off just 55 balls as SRH put up 201-6 on the board.
Chasing over 200, PBKS (erstwhile KXIP) openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal failed to get going. It was only when Nicholas Pooran walked in to bat that SRH started feeling the heat. With the West Indian scoring freely, Hyderabad felt the game was slipping from their hands. But Rashid Khan soon stepped in.
After dismissing Mandeep Singh with a googly, Rashid had his eyes set on Pooran's prized scalp. When the Windies star tried to hoick Rashid over square, he was caught and fell prey to the Afghan's brilliant plan.
Rashid also got rid of Mohammed Shami and helped SRH win the game by 69 runs.
#3 3/7 - SRH vs DC in IPL 2020
In a league stage fixture at the Dubai International Stadium, SRH were put to bat first by Delhi Capitals (DC). Hyderabad put in a fine batting display and scored 219/2.
In reply, DC's Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed in the first over itself. With Shimron Hetmyer looking dangerous, Rashid Khan was asked to bowl.
He cleaned up Hetmyer with a googly before dismissing the set Ajinkya Rahane in the same over. He later got rid of Axar Patel and bowled one of the most economical spells bowled in the history of the IPL. Giving away only seven runs, Rashid picked up three scalps and bowled 17 dot balls in his four overs.