Rashid Khan first made headlines in India when he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 4 crore in the players’ auction held earlier this year. Along with Mohammad Nabi, he became one of the first cricketers from Afghanistan to be picked to play in the Indian Premier League.
Rashid, 18, was taken on board by the Hyderabad outfit at a sum of Rs four crore. The figure had then shocked most.
Will a teenager from a country that is ravaged by war out-bid several of his peers and earn a place in the world’s most high profile franchise-based league? It was a question most pundits would have pondered over. It did not take long for Rashid to provide an answer.
The teenager was handed a place in the playing XI by Sunrisers skipper David Warner in the opening encounter against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Making his debut in the IPL - the first time any cricketer from Afghanistan has been picked to play the league - Rashid made the outing even more special by scalping two crucial wickets to pave the way for a comfortable 35-run win for the Sunrisers Hyderabad over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Wednesday.
With wicket remaining true till the end, it was imperative for the Sunrisers to take early wickets or risk bearing some nervy moments despite posting a total of 207/4 from their allotted 20 overs. They openers Chris Gayle and Mandeep Singh began the chase, that did not seem to be how the game was panning out. The pair gave the team a sound start and took them past the 50-run mark.
Introduced in the sixth over, he dismissed Mandeep. He would return for a second spell to pick up the wicket of Travis Head, who was settled on 30 and just about beginning to cut loose.
The performance earned rich praise from Warner, who sees a bright future for Rashid.
“He was fantastic. He has the talent and seems to be a fantastic prospect for Afghanistan cricket,” Warner said after the match.
Rashid hails from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Incidentally, since being acquired by Sunrisers, the teenager has not been home where his family consisting of seven brothers and four sisters reside.
He came into the tournament having produced a fine show for Afghanistan against Ireland in a first-class match at the Greater Noida Stadium, home base for the Afghan outfit.
He had impressed by bagging eight wickets in the match, playing crucial role as Afghanistan went onto win by an innings and 172 runs. In the same tour, Rashid showed the same prowess with the white ball and bagged 16 wickets in five one-day games.
According to teammate and compatriot Mohammad Nabi even wicket-keepers struggle to pick his deliveries.
“He can be deceptive with his subtle variations and there are a few members in the Afghanistan squad who still can’t read him off the hand,” he had told the IPL website ahead of the game. “Even the wicket-keepers have a tough time picking his deliveries. I am sure he will be a key component in the IPL,” Nabi had added.
On Wednesday, not only was the format new, so was the setting. Rashid, though, produced a measured performance on wicket which hardly offered any assistance.
While, he still has a long way to go, he was definitely a big hit on opening night.