About 100 days short of turning 20, Rashid Khan revels in flummoxing opposition ranks. He makes sure the batsman facing him doesn’t pick him easily. That’s his swag.
In his brief career so far, he has already achieved the milestone of becoming the fastest to reach the landmark of 100 ODI wickets. He also made an impact during the just-concluded IPL, snaring 21 scalps.
“I call myself a finger spinner,” Rashid observes, leaving you confused as you start the conversation, addressing him as one of the best wristspinners around.
“Sounds unusual but that’s how I bowl,” he tells you as you try to recover from the vicious wrong-one. He explains: “I don’t use my wrist a lot in my bowling. I use my fingers as I deliver using the tip of my fingers. That helps me bowl quicker. I am a leg-spinner who bowls good wrong-uns.”
This revelation could help the batsmen clear their minds while facing him. But he knows he is at the top of his game and that overwhelming confidence will not make things any easier for the batsmen. Like his craft with the ball, the character is fascinating. You are tempted to delve deeper into the mind of Afghanistan’s first cricketing global superstar.
Going by his date of birth, he was a two-year-old when cricket first became visible as a sport in Afghanistan. “Nobody taught me to bowl legspin and the wrong-uns,” he makes it clear that there was little or no textbook coaching. “I haven’t watched and followed anyone in particular. I just observed Shahid Afridi and Anil Kumble. I don’t remember the exact period but maybe it was five-six years ago. I still watch Kumble when I am free.”
His rise to the top of the ICC T20 rankings and becoming the fastest to 50 T20I wickets (in terms of time) has come at a cost.
He is yet to see his family since he went home after IPL last year. Rashid knows he is the toast of the nation back home but he is yet to experience that craze and adulation in person. “Last year when I went home after IPL, it was amazing. I really loved that moment when I entered my home and they started celebrating. Looking forward to some rest and hopefully I can go home.”
As his voice gets a tad heavier, Rashid said: “I am giving back to my people by performing. It gives them joy.”
Rashid has earned his place in the pack of stars for whom shuttling across the cricketing world is a norm. Unlike other star players, Rashid doesn’t have the luxury of having a family member around him. “I am not engaged yet. I am still single so far,” he gushes.
“My family is very supportive. I talk to them daily through social media. At least they are watching me and enjoying my game. This is just my initial stage. I need to focus on my cricket right now,” he added.
Rashid loves his time away from the blinding spotlight. “When I am very stressed, I call my two-year-old niece. I just love talking to her.”
He will now enter perhaps the most important stretch of an unusually long period away from home playing cricket. The impending Test debut against India in 10 days will only add to his character.
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