A cameo of 34* off 10 balls, figures of 4-0-19-3, two catches and a run-out to put your team in the final of a keenly contested tournament is as close as it gets to perfect. And Rashid Khan did just that on Friday 25 May in the Indian Premier League.
It was an effort that elicited praise from the best. Sachin Tendulkar tweeted. “Always felt [Rashid Khan] was a good spinner, but now I wouldn’t hesitate in saying he is the best spinner in the world in this format. Mind you, he’s got some batting skills as well. Great guy.”
Coming in when Sunrisers Hyderabad were 134/6 with 13 balls left in their Qualifier 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Khan first got to show off his boundary-hitting skills.
Several of Afghanistan’s opponents have experienced the power of his bat, and he’s even opened the innings for his national side. On Friday, from No.8, he struck two fours and four sixes to lift his side to a competitive 174/7.
Then came the first of three special moments on the field. Running in from the deep, his throw to the wicket-keeper caught Nitish Rana short. That wrested the momentum from Kolkata at a time when they were cruising at 87/1 in the ninth over. Later in Carlos Brathwaite’s final over, he took two nerveless catches just inside the ropes.
Of course, the No.1 bowler on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings was on point with the ball, going at just 4.75. His three wickets included the big ones of Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell, who fell into a trap set by Rashid and captain Kane Williamson.
“Feeling pleased and proud had a brilliant performance in a very important and in a thrilling show of cricket,My goal is to beat my last performance and i really appreciate my fans for their unconditional love and support that always make us to give them more jubilations! #IPL,” he tweeted.
“In modern cricket, you’ve to contribute in all three departments,” said Khan, after the match.
He said he simply followed the advice of his Afghanistan senior, Mohammad Nabi, to play straight. “I have big-hitting skills, and I’ve put in hard work. I believed in my skills.
“Fielding is a department where there are no excuses. You have to keep yourself fit and perform. Bowling and batting can be matters of fate, but fielding is in my hands and I try to do my best.”
” As a leg spinner I love seeing all the different types of leg spinners playing in the IPL but watching @rashidkhan_19 bowl in these big games makes me proud as he loves this stage & pressure it also gets me excited,” Shane Warne ,the Australian spin veteran tweeted.
As for bowling, Rashid said, “There was something for the spinners. I just needed that little bit of turn. That makes it difficult.”
Khan dedicated his performance to the victims and families of those who lost their lives in a blast at a cricket match in Afghanistan last week.