Test cricket: Rashid Khan's acid test
Success in the T20 format
When Rashid Khan was born on 20th September, 1998 in the small town of Nangarhar, not many knew this young boy's name. Fast forward 20 years, and Rashid Khan is the leading light of Afghan cricket and the name on every cricket fan’s lips.
Having excelled in most T20 leagues the planet has to offer, the next challenge on his path to greatness is the Test arena. Afghanistan’s test debut against India in Bengaluru represents the perfect opportunity for him to affirm his status as the world’s premier leg-spinner.
Rashid Khan started off his international career at the tender age of 17 against Zimbabwe. He did not make a huge impact initially and it was only towards the end of the ICC World T20 in India that people started to take notice of the mercurial teenager. He has been on an upward curve ever since, leaving almost every batsman bamboozled with his crafty leg-spinners.
Rashid was hugely influential in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s IPL 2017 campaign and this led the Sunrisers to spend a whopping ₹9 crore when the IPL 2018 auction rolled in.
His stellar performance in the 2017 IPL also helped him bag a contract with the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League (BBL) He ended the tournament with an incredible return of 18 wickets from 11 games. He was irresistible in IPL 2018 as well, picking up 21 wickets at a miserly economy rate of 6.73. These feats, along with the hat-trick he claimed in the Caribbean Premier League catapulted him to T20 stardom.
He is renowned for his accuracy and the ability to read a batsman’s mind. Additionally, his action makes it tough for the batsmen to ‘read’ his googly. If players like MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli can’t pick his googly, there aren’t many in world cricket who can.
Test cricket's a different ball-game
In the limited overs format, the onus is on the batsmen to make the play and when one does not know which way the ball is turning, the batsmen end up taking unwarranted risks. Since it involves time constraints, the bowlers can go about restricting the batsmen and encourage them to make the play.
In Tests, however, the batsmen can play the waiting game and capitalize on the mistakes of the bowler. The onus in the Test format shifts to the bowlers where they are required to pick 20 wickets.
Sunil Narine is a prime example of a spinner who has not been able to replicate his limited-overs success in the Test arena. Rashid, however, is a more complete bowler compared to Sunil Narine. He is more disciplined and his quick-arm action generates a ‘zip’ off even the most docile pitches. He is very methodical in his approach and invariably he makes the right decision when it comes to picking which variation to bowl.
These abilities place him a notch higher than Sunil Narine and make him one of the bowlers to watch out for, when the Afghanistan team ventures into the Test arena.
Rashid also belongs to the rare breed of ‘three-dimensional’ cricketers going around. Apart from his guileful bowling, Rashid is a live wire in the field and has shown glimpses of genius with the bat. The ability to come up with a spectacular catch out of nowhere and the potential to provide those 30-40 runs lower down the order is what makes him a highly sought-after player.
The big test awaits
Afghanistan has grown by leaps and bounds as a cricketing nation and they show no signs of letting up. If their 3-0 whitewash of Bangladesh is anything to go by, one should expect them to give India a run for their money. This passion and success may give a country, embroiled in civil strife, something to smile about.
As for Rashid Khan, he has all the ingredients to be the best leg spinner in the world, across all formats. It is now up to him to pack all these ingredients together and serve it to the whole world.
Do you think Rashid Khan will excel in Test cricket as well? Tell us in the comments below!