Rashid Khan is a complete package…..
The question is – what possibly could a 20-year old could do? Well, there are lot of things that one can think about at such a tender age, but Afghanistani all-rounder Rashid Khan has been winning games for his side with his amazing skills and talent. He made his 20th birthday a memorable one by winning his side a game against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. The wily all-rounder has been scaling newer heights across the globe and has been the talk of the town in shorter formats. His crafty leg-spin has troubled the best of the batsmen and it is safe to say that it is yet to be decoded. He possesses an incredible googly, which he bowls without any discernible change in action.
Wrist-spinners have been hogging all the headlines lately and have done a magnificent job in international cricket. They are a special breed in this batsman dominated game and have managed to keep them under check; Rashid belongs to that rare breed. Blessed with a sound technique, Rashid has been a sensation to watch and his rise in the international circuit has been irresistible. The world is aware of his deadly bowling, but Rashid has now started gaining recognition with the bat and has been more than handy with the willow in hand.
When someone like Rashid is playing in the opposite side; a 20 over game automatically becomes of 16 overs for the side. It is almost impossible to dominate Rashid in his quota of overs and has been very economical. He is one bowler, who can conjure two to three wickets in a very short span of time. Rashid has stamped his authority in white ball cricket and it is only about time when he manages to replicate his magical performance in Tests as well.
On his 20th birthday, Afghanistan was locking horns with Bangladesh in the last game of the first round of Asia Cup. Bangladesh come fresh from an emphatic win against Sri Lanka in their opening game while Afghanistan had the momentum going their way after getting the better of the same side earlier. This was a dead rubber as both the teams had already qualified for the second round, but it was important keeping in mind the momentum aspect.
One cannot afford to underestimate Bangladesh, they are known to spring surprises out of the blue and the contest between both the sides was evenly poised. While batting first, Afghanistan found themselves in hot water at 160 for 7 inside 41 overs. They were nowhere close to a competitive total; they needed more runs on the board. They do have a strong bowling attack, but it doesn’t matter how lethal a bowling is if there aren’t enough runs on the board.
Rashid walked in to join Naib at the crease and with nine overs to go, the onus of getting a decent score was on them. Rashid is well-known for his belligerence with the bat, but this was a very delicate situation for Afghanistan, another wicket would have steered them in all sorts of trouble and they needed someone to accompany Naib and play out the 50 overs, primarily. Forget about Rashid providing support, he went berserk and launched an attack on Bangladeshi bowlers. He provided the much-needed impetus to Afghanistan’s run and scored a match-winning fifty under the pump.
Rashid was the centre of attraction with his powerful stroke-play; with the help of eight boundaries and a solitary six, he went on to score an unbeaten 57 off 32 deliveries. He stitched the most important partnership of the match with Naib of 95 runs off 55 deliveries. A total of 200 plus once looked impossible for Afghanistan to achieve, but Rashid helped his side post 255 without much of a trouble.
Bangladesh had the firepower to chase down such a competitive total. They snatched an implausible win from the imminent jaws of defeat against Sri Lanka, but Afghanistan certainly had a better bowling attack. Bangladesh lost wickets early and were in hot water in the run-chase. Rashid scalped the two prized wickets to steer his side to total command. Both Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah got decent starts, but Rashid ended their run with his guileful spin. He was awarded man of the match for this valiant performance and it wouldn’t have got any better on his birthday. Rashid is now raising expectations as an all-rounder; a glimpse of his powerful batting has been witnessed earlier, but this one was special. He is now winning matches for his side with the bat too.
Afghanistan are underdogs in the tournament, but with every game they are only developing into an unstoppable force. They will be the team to watch out in the second round and no team can afford to underestimate them. With a well-oiled bowling attack, Afghanistan will now be looking to achieve fruitful results.