Ever since he made his debut in international cricket in October 2015, Rashid Khan has made a mark almost every time he has stepped on the field. The leg-spinner impressed initially with strong performances for Afghanistan, but his exploits for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League catapulted him to stardom.
The Sunrisers brought in Rashid after winning the IPL title in 2016. While he had a reputation of being a promising young spinner,not many knew what he was truly capable of. But the leggie ended up delivering a solid season for his team right away.
Rashid played 14 games for SRH in IPL 2017 and returned with 17 wickets. His quick-arm action and brilliant variations were an instant hit in the T20 tournament and he played a key role in his team making it to the playoffs that year.
The Afghan went from strength to strength and had another fine season in the 2018 edition of the IPL. He picked up 21 wickets from 17 matches at an average of 21.80 as SRH finished runners-up.
The franchise was so impressed by his work that it retained him for a whopping Rs 9 crore for IPL 2019. And once again, Rashid didn’t disappoint as he bagged 17 wickets from 15 games in the IPL last year.
SRH boasts of some big international stars like David Warner, Kane Williamson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But there’s no doubt that Rashid has been one of their biggest match-winners over the past three years. He has not just been an integral part of the SRH squad, but has also gone to be a brilliant performer in T20 leagues around the world.
In a Youtube chat show with sports commentator Arun Venugopal, SRH and Bangladesh Performance Analyst Shrinivas Chandrashekaran revealed the story behind how the Orange Army acquired the services of Rashid.
Here’s what Shrinivas had to say about bringing in Rashid and his compatriot Mohammad Nabi:
It was during the World T20 in 2016 that we first watched Rashid Khan closely. You could see that there was something different about him. He had a good game against England in Delhi. There were [good] performances during that World T20 and we kept following him. Whatever games he was playing, he would run through oppositions.
So the curiosity about him increased. The pace at which he bowled was a lot different to what a normal leggie would bowl, and the way he could finish games and his fielding was top class. There was a complete package there, but then you were always thinking whether the exposure side of things would be a concern. There might be questions coming up about the level he was playing at – obviously he had played international cricket but then the quality of batsmanship [against which he was faced would obviously be brought up]. But then, we were very certain – even if he plays the opposition ten times and they are still not able to pick him day in and day out, then there is something there.
Rashid was part of the Bangladesh Premier League as well. Mohammad Nabi was part of Chittagong Vikings like I was and Rashid was playing for Comilla, which was led by Mashrafe Mortaza. Rashid didn’t play the first seven games as they went with Imad Wasim. However, they had lost all the seven games. Once their seventh game was over, I had a discussion with their coach.
That’s when I suggested that they could play Rashid and see if he could make a difference. I also wanted to see [what Rashid could do], and the coach gave me an opportunity as well to make my case. Before that, Tom Moody was also doing commentary at PSL during the first season, so he had watched Mohammad Nabi very closely. So, he got a fair idea of what Mohammad Nabi could give as a finisher with the bat and his four overs with the ball, and his experience overall. So, there was constant discussion only about these two players. With Nabi in my team, I could ask about Rashid – how he fit into the Afghanistan side, what he did during practice sessions, and all those things. I also used to watch Rashid bowl in the adjacent nets, so it gave me a clear picture. I took it forward to the [Sunrisers Hyderabad] franchise and they were also very keen. But we had to make a decision between going for Imran Tahir or Rashid Khan because Tahir was also in the auction and he was the number one T20 bowler then.
Experience vs a young rookie – that was a call we had to take. But then we thought that in 2016 we had picked up Mustafizur Rahman and he turned out to be a sensation, so it kind of allowed us to give it a go with someone like Rashid, who is different. So we went ahead with those players and it worked wonders for us. Both have been an integral part of the franchise and have provided match-winning performances for us.