Rashid Khan: The record-breaking Afghan teenager
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog" goes the popular saying. And by that yardstick, Rashid Khan, the 19-year-old teen sensation from Afghanistan, can definitely be called a "Big Dog" in world cricket as he has been single-handedly winning games for his country and T20 franchises across the globe.
There isn’t a greater cinematic thrill than watching the triumph of an underdog story and one film that immediately comes to mind is the Sylvester Stallone starrer "Rocky". In that movie, Rocky Balboa was quite clearly the underdog and the inferior boxer, yet there isn't a single moment when the audience is not cheering for him and rooting for his win.
The current Afghanistan cricket team’s performance is the sporting equivalent of that cinematic magic and excellence. When 11 passionate and talented men hailing from a war-stricken, impoverished third-world country, take on the heavyweights of the game and succeed; it is bound to bring a smile to the faces of any sporting fan, regardless of their nationalities or loyalties. And the man at the forefront of Afghanistan’s recent success is none other than Rashid Khan.
There is no greater joy than watching Rashid Khan on the cricket field. Whether it is with the bat, with the ball or when he is simply out there fielding - there isn't a single game where he can be kept out of the action for long.
At the tender age of 19 when one is often lost and contemplating on the next course of action in life, Rashid Khan has gone on to become a million dollar global cricket superstar. At an age when most cricketers are finding their feet in domestic cricket, Rashid Khan already has numerous international records to his name.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this young lad, currently the number one ranked International T20 bowler is amongst the number one auction picks of franchises in T20 leagues across the globe.
15 unique records held by the 19-year-old Afghan sensation Rashid Khan:
#1 Youngest to captain a country at the age of 19 years and 165 days when in March 2018, during the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, he captained Afghanistan for the first time in an ODI match.
#2 Fastest to reach 100 ODI wickets in just 44 matches, comfortably beating Australian Mitchell Starc's record of 52 matches.
#3 Youngest ever to become the No.1 in ICC’s ODI bowlers ranking history when he moved to the top-ranked position in February 2018.
#4 Youngest ever to become the No.1 in ICC’s T20I bowlers ranking history when he clinched the top spot in February 2018.
#5 At an age of 7,092 days, Rashid Khan also became the youngest ever to top any form of ICC Player Rankings (batsmen or bowlers) across formats breaking Pakistani Saqlain Mushtaq’s record. Saqlain at an age of 7,683 days had topped the ODI bowling charts in 1998.
#6 Youngest ever to win the ICC Associate Player of the Year Award when he won the 2017 award.
#7 Fastest to reach 50 T20I wickets in terms of time taken - 2 years and 220 days since his debut in 2015.
#8 Second fastest to reach 50 T20I wickets in terms of matches played (31 matches) behind Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis who was the fastest to achieve the feat in just 26 matches.
#9 First player to take a five-wicket haul in two overs in a T20I match when he picked up 5 wickets for 3 runs against Ireland in 2017.
#10 His figures of 5 wickets for 3 runs against Ireland is also the best bowling performance by an Afghan cricketer in a T20I and the joint fourth-best figures in all T20Is.
#11 First associate nation cricketer to take 7 wickets in an ODI when he picked up 7 wickets for 18 runs against the West Indies in 2017, which is also the fourth best ODI bowling figures overall.
#12 Record holder for most wickets by an Associate player in a calendar year when he picked up 60 wickets for Afghanistan in 2017.
#13 With 43 wickets for Afghanistan in ODIs in 2017, he also holds the record for most ODI wickets in a calendar year by an Associate player.
#14 In February 2017, he fetched the highest ever bid for an Associate player in the IPL Auction where he was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 4 crore.
#15 In September 2017, he took a hat-trick for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), thereby picking up the first hat-trick in the history of the CPL.
With Afghanistan set to play their first ever Test match against India later this month, there are exciting times ahead for Afghan cricket and especially Rashid Khan. Success in Test cricket is still considered as the ultimate pinnacle for a cricketer and the young lad who grew up idolizing Pakistan's Shahid Afridi will certainly be looking to leave his mark.
There is no doubt that India will start as firm favourites while Afghanistan will be the underdog in the Test match, but this will be the dawn of a new era for a war-torn nation. Rashid Khan will not just be playing to make a name for himself and his country; he will be playing with all his heart and soul to momentarily alleviate the Afghan people's hardships.
Victory in the Test against India might be a far fetched dream, but for now, their triumph in their very first T20 international series against Bangladesh deserves to be celebrated. It's the triumph of the underdog and world cricket will be rooting for Afghanistan's long term success.
What do you think the future holds for Rashid Khan? Tell us in the comments below!