The Rashid Khan story: World beater at 19
A refugee for few years in Pakistan and returning to Afghanistan to continue schooling, Rashid Khan's journey into the cricketing world has been nothing less than an example of challenges and advances.
Rashid Khan Arman was born in 1998 in Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan. Rashid Khan's journey from a slum-boy of Nangarhar to a name on everybody's lips in international cricket goes a very long way. What is more interesting is the prestige that has come to Afghanistan cricket through his performances on the international and domestic circuits. Rashid Khan's aggressive approach to bowling is highly regarded by many and it's fair to call him the best spinner today on any track.
Breaking records for fun
Less than a month before his 17th birthday, Rashid Khan debuted for the national side of Afghanistan. Rashid also became the youngest player to captain an international team. At 19 years and 165 days, he captained Afghanistan in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which saw him become the fastest and youngest bowler to take 100 wickets in ODIs. He also became the costliest player in the IPL, coming from an associate nation and covered himself in glory with his exploits in this year's edition of the tournament.
Going past records after records and advancing to the figures set by highly experienced bowlers of today, Rashid Khan went past Starc's record of fastest 100 wickets in ODIs in no time. In 2018, Rashid Khan became the fastest bowler to take 50 wickets in T20 cricket. He achieved the feat in 2 years and 220 days, fastest by any bowler in cricket. He also became the first bowler to achieve a hat-trick in the CPL and following with Adelaide Strikers in the Australian Big Bash. In the following month after Rashid Khan was bought again by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2018 edition of the IPL, he was signed by Sussex County Club to play Natwest T20 in England. In January 2018, ICC named him the Associate Cricketer of the year.
Performing all around the world
At a very young age of 19, Rashid Khan has achieved more than just a name for himself. He has put Afghanistan on the map, so to speak. Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh in their recently played T20. Rashid has constantly proved that all the hype around him is not just talk. He has backed it up with his performances too! It's no wonder that he will be a player to watch out for. He can turn games around with his bamboozling spin, and is pretty handy with the bat in the lower order to boot. From India to the Caribbean, in Australia, and pretty much everywhere else, Rashid has had batsmen "stumped".
Rashid Khan, 19, has done enough for his country at a very young age. Afghanistan play the World Cup next year as a comparatively stronger side from their last outing. The presence of Rashid in the squad will only boost the morale of the rest of the squad.
Similarities with the great Imran Khan
Rashid Khan in a way is like the great Imran Khan of Afghanistan. Yes, the comparisons might be coming too soon but he has changed the whole perspective towards bowling in the death and that too being a spinner, has changed the natural inclination of captains to go with the pace. While Imran Khan was a speedster in his prime, he changed Pakistan cricket and brought it to a whole new level. He literally carried his team. He was near immaculate with his variations and the length he wanted to bowl. The fact that Afghanistan is talked about today as an emerging nation in the field of cricket is in large part down to Rashid.
Their recent outing against Bangladesh is a good example of the kind of cricket Afghanistan has been playing. The nation has found a new footing in terms of quality bowlers and young batsmen who are time and again proving their mettle with bat and bowl. Afghanistan in that sense is improving and could very well be giant killers, come the 2019 World Cup.
The journey ahead
Rashid's back-to-back successful stints with Sunrisers Hyderabad is ample testimony of the kind of player he has molded himself into and his evolution as a game changer. He has a busy schedule and is being nurtured by experienced players while playing in domestic cricket. While he has only gotten better with age, Rashid Khan is a pure sign of magic and advancements for Afghanistan cricket. It is yet to be seen where Afghanistan goes from here.
While this is just a start for the young man, time will tell where Afghanistan cricket will go in the hands of this very talented bowler. Rashid Khan has already done enough for the country at his tender age. If players like him continue to rule the roost in the world of cricket, the picture does look quite rosy for the Afghanistan team in the near future.