The question is – What possibly an 18-year-old could do? Make it to the stateside, have a prolific run in the domestic season or earn a national call. Well, Afghanistani leggie is well ahead of this race. He hogged all the headlines when Sunrisers Hyderabad roped him in for a mind-boggling amount of Rs. 4 crores at the Indian Premier League 2017 Player auction. And, the talented leggie has not failed to justify his selection and won billions of hearts with his guile in six games so far.

It’s a huge landmark in any cricketer’s life to get picked in the cash-rich extravaganza – IPL. And for a budding talent from an associate nation, it’s astronomical. Rashid has done enough for his national side to attract enormous eyeballs, in fact, he was also the first Afghani cricketer to have featured in the tournament.

No, make no mistake, Rashid is not someone who bowls the orthodox leg-spin, he rather prefers to take the quicker way out and isn’t a massive turner of the cricket ball. He is quicker through the air and bowls the deceiving googly at a similar pace and without any detectable change in action. For many batsmen at the crease, it is difficult to pick him off the hand. Imagine, how difficult it is for a batsman to confront such quicker deliveries, which turn both ways.

Rashid takes a leaf from Shahid Afridi’s bowling. His staggering accuracy and control, which he maintains to perfection, stand him out from his imminent peers. He embraced IPL on a promising note against Royal Challengers Bangalore, picking two for 33 in his debut game. This was a glimpse of what he is made of looked very impressive.

The next game against Gujarat Lions was just a testament to his ability in keeping the opposition under the pump. Rashid outfoxed three international players with his craft – Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Suresh Raina. All were trapped leg before, which clearly speaks about his accuracy and control. McCullum and Finch were undone with his googly while Raina fell prey to a classic leg-spin. He finished with an awe-inspiring figure of 3 for 19 against the star-studded batting line-up of Gujarat Lions.

Not just them, one of the best players of spin, Rohit Sharma, was also outfoxed with his wrong’un and was caught leg before by Rashid in their next encounter. He bowled reasonably well against Kolkata Knight Riders but had an ordinary game against Kings XI Punjab. Against Delhi Daredevils, he remained wicketless but his economy was second best among the bowlers, who bowled all four overs.

As they say, leg-spinners are wicket-takers, they might leak runs but one needs to persist with them to reap fruitful dividends. But, Rashid has the potential to defy this belief. Although he might be a tad expensive than his overall T20 figures in this IPL but once expect these numbers only to get better. Rashid has an economy of 6.23 as compared to his IPL’s figure of 7.41.

Bowling in the powerplay is considered to be one of the toughest jobs in T20 cricket it’s akin to throwing a lamb into the lion’s den but Rashid has returned unscathed. For a spinner, he has to be exceptional and outstanding to put in the hard yards when the field restrictions are on, something which Samuel Badree or even Harbhajan Singh for that matter has mastered. In his 24 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) so far, Rashid has bowled just a solitary over in the powerplay, but his SRH skipper has shown immense faith in him and threw the ball every time the opposition clicked.

The spinners are often taken for runs in this batting-friendly conditions but Rashid knows the trick in keeping them under check. Also, is bowling  spin with some extra pace the new way out in T20s? There are bowlers, who rely on orthodox technique and are effective and then there is Rashid Khan. If one introspects closely, Samuel Badree, who is hailed as one of the best T20 spinners bowls relatively quicker. An upcoming bowling sensation from Pakistan – Shadab Khan is also a leggie, who at times is quicker through the air.

Being quicker through the air denies the batsman that extra fraction of a second to adjust to the length. And if the bowler can get the ball to turn at that pace, it will only make a batsman’s life difficult at the crease. With age being on his side and a number of IPL games scheduled, Rashid will evolve as a leg-spinner after rubbing shoulders with international stars. It’s mesmerising to watch a bowler from an associate nation taking on the big guns in one of the grandest stages of T20 cricket. Rashid never looked short of confidence and that look in his eyes is a testament to it.

Apart from his skillful bowling, Rashid is also handy when it comes to batting. Quite capable of garnering some priceless runs lower down the order. He walked out to bat on the last delivery of SRH innings against Kings XI Punjab, which was sent sailing over long-on with brute power and finesse. Afghanistan has produced some impressive talents in the recent times and players like Mohammad Shehzad, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi to name a few, can take the associate nation to newer heights. As of now, let’s sit back and enjoy watching Rashid spinning a series of web in the games to come.

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