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Spun out: Why the best of Rashid Khan is still ahead of him?

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“What can be said about a guy who, at 20, has become a national hero in his war-torn country and whose brightest years lie ahead of him?
Does it suffice to say that each time the white or now, the red ball lands into his grasp, batsmen can’t expect anything other than the best of Rashid Khan?”
Nearly less than a decade ago, the mere mention of Afghanistan to the cricketing world may have carried the same importance as that of a fly to the tea-drinker who prepares to remove it from his sight giving no second thoughts.

On top of the world at just 20: Rashid Khan

The rise of Rashid Khan has been a synonym to Afghanistan’s rise in the World Cricket (Image: Business Standard)

Five years hence, playing Afghanistan sounds like a red-alert or warning to many teams. It’s as if the warning carries a disclaimer: “watch out, roadblock ahead.”
In a short span of time playing T20s and ODIs have Afghanistan drawn comparisons with some of the best bowling attacks, taken the Mickey out of T20 forces like the Windies, found themselves drenched in applause in the international media, beaten established sides like Ireland, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and have managed to mark their Test debut, that too in Virat Kohli-land.
Implicit in the rise of Afghanistan, both in its cricketing journey and the outcomes thereof is an earnest young man, who began taking wickets with a sedate ease in international cricket even before reaching the eligible age to acquire his driver’s license.
Afghanistan’s cricketing compass in the presence of this talismanic cricketer never wavers into the zone of being mediocre or average.
Even when he doesn’t come into a bowl, there’s this mortal threat of him getting a bowl sometime soon.
And when he does approach the popping crease, seconds before plotting the downfall of the men ahead, it appears the ball probes the willow a final wish; in the cricketing lingo, you can call it a death-wish.

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Plotting the bat’s downfall

Rashid Khan appealing for a leg before wicket dismissal (Image: NDTV Sports)

Consider cricket to be a coin to be perpetually tossed into the thin air. Against that backdrop, Afghanistan today is assured of winning the contest each time; for on either side rests the familiar presence of Rashid Khan who stokes their luck.
Not since the 20-year-old has cricket seen another spinner who brings such thrill into the contest. Even as in Warne, Murali there were obvious difficulties for batsmen to score, the arrival of Rashid Khan has brought an increased focus on the twin tenets that glorify a spinners’ success: the wickets column and the economy rate.
He first tempts batsmen to go for the big shots, beating them in flight. Next up, he removes the sheen of confidence off their face, tricking them into exposing their stumps for the pleasure of his naked eyes. The turn of his googlies and leg-breaks are more confusing than the economy of his native land.

How does he make magic on the pitch?

Rashid Khan is an exceptional talent who brings thrill into any contest(Image: Mynation)

What follows are signs of disturbed timber or shattered stumps. Pumped Afghani chests roar in applause having seen the best of Rashid Khan. In international cricket today, Rashid Khan- a stickler for fitness, a devotee to the turn of the ball, and a passionate cricketer who wears his heart on his sleeve- signals the triumph of the ball, interestingly in an age of DRS reviews, powerplays, and free-hits.
Surely, there’s hardly a surprise as to why Rashid Khan is as feared as he is respected. Not always does a leg-spinner manage to bowl 2 maiden overs in his ODI debut, does he? When Khan did so back in 2015, Zimbabwe came down to their feet, that too at Bulawayo.
Today, at 112 ODI wickets having not even played 50 games proves just why the best of Rashid Khan is ahead of him. But in this brief journey, he’s troubled everyone, Gayle and Dhawan, Mushfiqur and Shakib, Williamson and Fakhar.
Who else but Rashid Khan could have clinched a 5-for in a T20 having bowled 2 overs, one of which was a maiden, giving only 3 runs? In a cricketing journey that began in 2015 and hasn’t even completed half a decade, Rashid Khan has already sculpted a Picasso-like portrait of bowling greatness where instead of a fine stroke of lines or patterned genius there stand perplexing revolutions of the ball and the magical twirl with which it fetches its fine connoisseur, groundbreaking success.

What lies ahead for Rashid Khan?

Rashid Khan celebrates after picking a wicket (Image: Latestly)

At times, it appears that he begins appealing even before the ball is released from his fine grasp. On other occasions, it seems as if the umpire is all ready to wage his finger before an appeal is made.
It seemed that way when Afghanistan bullied the Windies in the Caribbean in 2016. It seemed that way when they reduced them to the size of raisin in the 2016 World T20. So impressed was Gayle that he began dancing with his teams’ conquerors.
With at least a decade ahead of him considering injuries stay away from Rashid Khan the way his bowling escapes the butchering of the bat, there’s no reason to believe why the best of Rashid Khan is ahead of him.

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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