Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) would be thanking Rashid Khan for his superb match-winning spell against Kings XI Punjab during the Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali on Friday. Rashid’s brilliant display of leg-spin stopped the Shaun Marsh-Eoin Morgan juggernaut which was pushing Kings XI Punjab to a successful chase. (Match highlights)
For his effort, Rashid Khan was given the Man of the Match award on Friday, which he dedicated to his brother.
“I would like to dedicate this award to my brother,” said Rashid. “He has prayed for me and this goes to him.”
The 18-year-old Afghanistan spinner bowled four overs, giving away 16 runs, and most importantly, grabbed Morgan’s wicket that tilted the match in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s favour. (Match scorecard)
Man of the match means a lot to me my family and my nation 🇦🇫👍🏻👍🏻✌🏻️ pic.twitter.com/1BNf1HEBqN— Rashid Khan (@rashidkhan_19) April 28, 2017
With Kings XI Punjab on a roll and needing 141 runs off 13 overs, Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Warner introduced Rashid into the attack. The Kings XI Punjab duo looked uncomfortable against the leggie and Morgan fell prey to him when he was caught at the deep while on 26.
When coach Tom Moody says Rashid Khan is still a mystery for the batsman and a terrific find for Sunrisers, he sure is not exaggerating.
Enjoying his maiden Indian Premier League stint, Rashid, who has played 26 ODIs and 24 T20s for Afghanistan cricket team, said, “It was great to win the game the way we did.”
Rashid elaborated on how the IPL experience has been a revelation for him.
“The IPL experience playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad has been life-changing,” he added. “Most of the Asian wickets are spin friendly, so it is wonderful bowling on the Indian wickets, that too with a legendary bowler like Mutthiah Muralitharan as the coach. I have been working hard with him during the practice sessions. He infuses confidence in me which motivates me to go out there and give me best.”
Rashid, raised eyebrows, when Sunrisers Hyderabad got him for a whopping Rs. 4 crores during the IPL auction.
He is making most of the IPL and feels the experience will help him become a better cricketer in all formats.
“I feel fortunate to be playing with the big names in the IPL at such a young age,” said Rashid. “This experience is going to help me in a great deal when I turn up for Afghanistan in the ODIs and also in the longest format. I try to soak in what my seniors have to say about the match situations, bowling skills and other things too. I am preparing myself mentally for the cricket ahead.”
Rashid has been able to fox batsmen in the IPL with his googlies.
Another key to Rashid’s success was that he doesn’t go in to bowl with any premeditated strategy, no matter who he is bowling to.
“I have not looked at a batsman with a preconceived mind-set in any of the matches,” explained Rashid. “I try to give my best without thinking about the batsman. But if you ask me name the favourite wicket out of the 11 I have taken so far, then it has to be Brendon McCullum’s when we played Gujarat Lions.”
Afghanistan, war-torn and in turmoil, is seeing both Rashid Khan and off-spinner Mohammed Nabi as role models.
“The whole of Afghanistan is backing me and Mohammed Nabi,” said Rashid. “They are constantly praying for our success and keeping a check on the Sunrisers Hyderabad matches through TV, websites and the social media. It feels amazing to get such following. Our countrymen have been supporting us with all their heart and soul. IPL is considered very big back home and we taking part in it are making them feel proud.”
Rashid then explained what sporting success means to Afghanistan as a nation.
“It means a lot to them that the players of the nation have progressed and doing well in a sport internationally,” he said. “It gives the youngsters a positive message. It means it doesn’t matter if you are from an Associate nation, if you work hard and go for your dreams insha allah anything can be achieved.”
Sunrisers take on table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders in their next match on Sunday. It would be exciting to see how spinner Rashid Khan fares against the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen.