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Why does India love Rashid Khan?

Coming in from the land of Afghanistan, the wily leg-spinner has taken the world cricket by storm.

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 15 Jun 2018, 04:43 IST
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UAE v Afghanistan - ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier

Background

India has a rich cricketing legacy, one of the best in the world. To rise through the ranks and make yourself known in cricket circles here is probably one of the toughest things to do. Masses here have idolized their cricketers, even criticised them at times. It is no mean feat to please the Indian audiences. But there is someone from a relatively lesser-known land who is India’s poster boy at the moment. Yes, we are talking about none other than Rashid Khan.

What makes him so special in the Indian circuit? Indians have always welcomed good cricket and its heroes, but the 19-year-old from Afghanistan has impressed and inspired the Indian masses to a limitless extent.

We will talk about numbers in a bit. We are also not here to talk about his average in the power plays or his economy rates, nor are we talking about his brilliant variations like the googly and the wrong ones that he disses out at will. We are here to discuss something more relevant – the big heart from the little man.

There’s a lot more in the background than what is seen in the foreground. He comes from a land where cricket was taboo for a long, long time. A product of a war-torn nation where survival in itself becomes a challenge, you just can't afford the luxury of playing a sport. It’s 2018 now, and he is ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the ICC Rankings for the Best bowler in T20s and ODIs respectively. A crowd favorite in the truest sense of the world, he has just started and how.

The IPL story

Adorning an orange Sunrisers Hyderabad jersey and a colored sports watch, Rashid Khan entered IPL in 2017 after an intense bidding. Breaking the bank with an amount of 4 crores, he attracted the highest bid for an Associate player.

With the legendary coaching staff in VVS Laxman, Tom Moody and Muttiah Muralitharan – all champions in their own rights, he had no business looking elsewhere for the right inspiration, guidance, and direction.

The joyous smile after capturing a wicket in the IPL has undone the Indian audience, even if the wicket is that of an Indian domestic player. Add to that, his smart work ethics and instincts have taken him places in a couple of years.

Bowling extraordinary wicket-taking and match-changing overs in the death and even at the start, Rashid Khan has made his mark on the Indian minds. Everyone wants to see him take the ball and go all-out with his skills.

The numbers game

Now is the time for numbers to support his case. He became the youngest to 100 ODI wickets, reaching the milestone in just 44 ODIs. In T20Is, he has 57 wickets from 33 matches. All this just after staying two and a half years in the international circuit.

In two IPL seasons, he has played a total of 31 matches and accounted for 38 wickets. So much for a young player who has just tasted the perks of international cricket. After all, one would have surely done something noteworthy when the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar himself rates you as the world’s best spinner in T20s. Isn’t it?

Afghanistan has added a remarkable feather in their cricketing legacy, that of being inducted as a Test-playing nation, and are currently playing their inaugural Test against India in Bengaluru. It does present Rashid Khan an opportunity to have his say in the whites and further push his already excellent case.

How else would one describe him in words, if not a genius?


What do you like the most about Rashid Khan? Tell us in the comments below!

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