Rashid Khan's career trajectory is one that has left fans and pundits alike in awe. Having sprung onto the scene as an exciting leg-spinner with a whippy-arm action, the Afghan sensation has established himself as one of the finest ever to have played the T20 format.
He has translated that success into ODIs as well while also enjoying a brilliant start to his Test career. A wrist-spinner totally in contrast to the old-school methods of loop and drift, Rashid relies on simplicity and piling up the dots without allowing the batters room to free their arms.
His superbly disguised googly remains hard to pick even after many years of batters facing him and watching videos of his action. The SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) spotted what most other franchises in the IPL didn't and snapped him up for ₹4 crore at the player auction in 2017.
The then-defending champions handed Rashid a debut in the curtain-raiser of IPL 2017 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. He thereby became the first player from Afghanistan to have played an IPL match.
Rashid has since gone from strength to strength and as of today, boasts of 139 wickets in 109 appearances in the league for SRH and Gujarat Titans (GT). He moved to the Titans ahead of the 2022 season and is the vice-captain of the Hardik Pandya-led outfit.
His bowling aside, he's also a very agile fielder while often chipping in with crucial runs with the bat in the slog-overs. It has been one incredibly inspiring journey for the Afghan superstar with a host of others following his footsteps back home.
As Rashid turns 25 on Wednesday, September 20, let's revisit his first-ever IPL match where he debuted for SRH, and look at his teammates from that contest and where they are now.
Openers - David Warner (c) and Shikhar Dhawan
Famously dubbed the 'David-Dhawan' combination, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan were a blockbuster opening pair for SRH. They went a long way in sealing them their only title to date in 2016 and they opened the innings for the franchise in IPL 2017 as well.
Captain Warner got off to a flyer but his stay was cut short to an eight-ball 14 as debutant Aniket Choudhary saw the back of him. Dhawan held the innings together with a typically solid anchor knock of 40, which came off 31 deliveries.
Both Warner and Dhawan are active cricketers and led the Delhi Capitals (DC) and Punjab Kings (PBKS), respectively, in IPL 2023. While Warner is set to play a huge role in Australia's World Cup campaign next month, Dhawan has been discarded from the Indian setup altogether.
Middle order - Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Ben Cutting, and Naman Ojha (wk)
Moises Henriques turned in a masterful 37-ball 52 coming in at No. 3 to power SRH along post the departure of Warner. His 74-run partnership for the second wicket with Dhawan gave the hosts the ideal launchpad from which they could accelerate.
Yuvraj Singh took that opportunity with both hands. The southpaw blazed away to a 27-ball 62 and rewound the clock in what was a delightful display of power-hitting and stroke-making. He was in a menacing mood until he was bowled in the penultimate over sent down by Tymal Mills.
Unbeaten 16-run cameos from Deepak Hooda and Ben Cutting duly assisted Yuvraj as SRH piled up 207/4 in their 20 overs, with Cutting perhaps giving the RCB bowlers flashbacks of his stunning onslaught that won the SunRisers the final in 2016.
Hooda also accounted for the big wicket of Chris Gayle in the only over he bowled. Henriques sent down two overs and conceded twenty runs while Cutting conceded 35 off 3.4 overs with both Australians going wicketless. Although Naman Ojha was the side's wicketkeeper, he neither got to bat nor affected a dismissal with the gloves.
Yuvraj and Ojha have retired from all cricket but continue to play in the Road Safety World Series. The rest of the all-rounders remain active cricketers with Hooda playing for Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in the IPL and Rajasthan in domestic cricket, apart from representing India at last year's T20 World Cup.
Henriques last played an international game in 2021 and he continues to lead the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League while representing New South Wales in domestic cricket.
Cutting last represented Australia in 2014 before playing for the ICC World XI in a three-match T20I tour of Pakistan in 2017. He remains a T20 globetrotter and last played the Global T20 Canada, apart from playing for the Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League.
Bowlers - Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Ashish Nehra
Bipul Sharma, who famously dismissed AB de Villiers in the 2016 final, sent down a solitary over of his left-arm spin but made an impact with the wicket of Sachin Baby. His spin-bowling colleague Rashid had a debut to remember though as he struck with the wicket of Mandeep Singh in his very first over.
Rashid soon dismissed the dangerous Travis Head for a 22-ball 30 in the 13th over to derail what was looking like a promising chase from RCB. He finished with returns of 2/36 off his four overs and has never looked back in the league since then.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar added the finishing touches with the wickets of Stuart Binny and Tymal Mills in the death overs. He finished with 2/27 off his four overs while Ashish Nehra struck twice in as many deliveries in the 18th over despite an expensive start. With 2/42 off four overs, he got to his 100th IPL wicket in the process.
Bipul retired from all Indian cricket in 2021 but has since moved to the USA. He took part in the Nepal T20 earlier this year apart from playing in the inaugural US Masters T10 League last month.
Bhuvneshwar has been discarded from the Indian setup and last turned out in international cricket in November 2022. He continues to lead the SRH pace attack in the IPL though.
Nehra, who has long retired from international cricket, coaches Rashid at the Gujarat Titans (GT) with the team winning the title at the first time of asking in 2022 and nearly defending their crown this year.
Rashid will next be seen in action at the ODI World Cup in India in October with Afghanistan looking to leave their mark on the tournament. If they are to make the semifinals, there's no doubt that the talismanic Rashid will have a massive say in their campaign.
RCB playing XI from Rashid Khan's IPL debut
The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who lost the final of IPL 2016 by eight runs to SRH, were dealt a massive blow ahead of the 2017 season. Injuries ruled their two biggest stars in Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers out of the start of the season while KL Rahul was sidelined from the entire tournament.
Shane Watson led RCB in Kohli's absence and while they tried their best to chase down 208, they ended up falling short by 35 runs as they were bowled out for 172 in 19.4 overs.
Here's the playing XI RCB fielded for their 2017 opener against SRH in Hyderabad:
Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Travis Head, Kedar Jadhav (wk), Shane Watson (c), Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Sreenath Aravind, Tymal Mills, Yuzvendra Chahal and Aniket Choudhary.
Is SRH letting go of Rashid Khan the biggest blunder made by a franchise in the IPL? Have your say in the comments section below!
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