Rashid Khan: The Supreme Talent, A 19-year-old Wonder Kid.
Deshaun Watson of Houston Texans for NFL, Donovan Mitchell of Utah Jazz for NBA, Jose Altuve of Houston Astros for MLB, Rashid Khan of Afghanistan for Cricket. The common thing about all these players? They are the sports best up and coming young players who carry the weight of their teams on their shoulders. Without these players, their team is almost considered not dangerous. The one that stands out most among that group is Rashid Khan.
Afghanistan Cricket has achieved full-time status as an ICC member in 2017 and the Test status as well thanks in big part to Rashid Khan and the kind of success he has had all across the globe. He is just 19 years old and has already played 100 T20 games. He had success in every tournament he played for, BBL, CPL, IPL you name it. He is the constant. His latest performance for Sunrisers Hyderabad is the best example of how consistent he can be throughout the tournament.
He is and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and is just 19 years old.
A versatile expertise
The pressure cannot get to him, facing elimination at a critical juncture during the qualifier 2 in IPL 2018, he showed up in all facets of the game not only just bowling but also in batting by hittings for a blistering knock of 34 in just 10 balls. None of them were lucky shots as they came right from the middle of the bat even a reverse sweep for a six reminiscing the South African great AB de Villiers.
While bowling the presence of big names on the crease doesn't concern him. In qualifier 1 while defending in a modest total against a very deep batting lineup of CSK and with the best finisher in the game MS Dhoni on the strike he bowls a wrong 'un to get rid of a stunned Dhoni. If you can stun someone like Dhoni like that you are very well unstoppable.
He proved that again in weeks time by helping Afghanistan sweep a very good Bangladesh team in a 3-0 T20 series in Dehradun. Earlier in the year, Rashid Khan was named the Adelaide Strikers' MVP for BBL 7. His 18 wicket performance helped the strikers win their first BBL title.
The three-match series against Bangladesh proved how important and pivotal is Rashid Khan's role for team Afghanistan. He took 7 wickets in the first two games to help seal the series for the Afghans.
Prior to that for the Sunrisers in IPL, he picked up wickets in regular intervals to help defend the string of so many sub-par totals. He was particularly brilliant during the 10-16 overs. Majority of the 21 wickets he picked up were during that span and helping the bowlers in the death by increasing the required rate for the chasing team.
Having a captain that understands the situation and his bowler strength is something that helps any bowler in any format of the game. Rashid Khan had just that in Kane Williamson in IPL 2018. The best example for their mutual coordination came at a very crucial point during the qualifier to get the wicket of Andre Russell helps to seal the game for SRH. Williamson after consulting his bowler took almost about 5 minutes to set a very unique field. Russell who was perplexed tried to pull the bat away and knicked the ball which took an edge and caught by Dhawan who was deep in the slip. The other instance which shows why Rashid Khan is exceptional is the wicket of MS Dhoni in Qualifier 1. Not many could boast getting Dhoni out that way.
Taking wickets isn't always the only way to help win a game, being economical can also be fruitful. He proved that during both IPL 2018 and the three T20I series against Bangladesh.
During the final T20I against Bangladesh, Rashid Khan had one of the most dreadful and the situation which most bowlers would never dream bowling. The final over defending 9 runs. Not sure many teams or captains would turn towards a spinner in such a situation. But Rashid Khan is not your regular day spinner and he proved that again by giving just the 7 runs and helping sweep the series against a good Bangladesh squad. This performance is even more amazing considering that the other two bowlers during the final overs conceded 36 runs in two overs while Rashid Khan just gave 16 runs.
Another instance goes back during the first half of IPL 2018 against Mumbai Indians in Wankhede Stadium, a place where generally any total seems not enough to defend. But, SRH who posted an inadequate 118 runs, Rashid Khan helped SRH defend that total. During that defense, he bowled one of the best overs to one of the powerful hitters in the game. With about 30 runs required and Hardik Pandya on strike, Kane Williamson brought his trump card in Rashid Khan to bowl a very important 18th over. Rashid bowled some very tight lengths not letting Pandya go and hence resulting in a maiden over and helped seal the win.
This is not a team that is going to vanish after a few years like any other associate member teams that came and faded away pretty quickly. This team is here to stay and Rashid Khan is going to make sure it does for a really really long time. He is also in a very good company. Afghanistan is a very young team whose talents go beyond Rashid Khan. They have Mohammed Nabi and another young spinner in Mujeeb Rahaman. This is a team that excites me for the World Cup 2019. They could very well do what Kenya did in 2003 or maybe even more.
With being recognized as the full-time member by ICC and by qualifying for the World Cup next year the future looks bright for this good team. The BCCI has taken an amazing initiative with every team that is touring India to play a T20I against Afghanistan. This is good for the team. The Players need that, the country needs that. The country that is always on the edge of war, cricket is something that provides the relief and put some much-needed smiles on their faces. Rashid Khan is definitely the man who is bringing smiles to the people of this country.
Everyone knows how big impact Sachin Tendulkar has been as an individual for everyone in India and Rashid Khan could be and maybe even more than that for Afghanistan. He put smiles on the faces of many Afghans after a very long time. And did I mention he is just 19 years old?
Afghanistan needs Rashid Khan. The world needs Rashid Khan.