Rashid Khan: Eyeing to create a flutter or two

Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who is the best all-rounder in the ODI format, talks about the benefits of being with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL and what the ICC Cricket World Cup means to his nation.

Rashid Khan says he has played enough games to gain the experience of the England pitches, and he knows what is the right ball to bowl.   -  K. Murali Kumar

A short run-up, a deceptive flight through the air and into the mind of the batsmen. It’s the Rashid Khan trap. It has been only four years since the leg-spinner arrived in international cricket; he is already the face of Afghanistan.

It had to happen. He never let the deception slip. The global T20 superstar accumulated the professional cricket experience and turned the tide for Afghanistan in international cricket.

More from our World Cup coverage over here

This Afghanistan team is a far more confident side today. The tied match against India in the Asia Cup in September 2018 underlines the improvement the team has achieved over the past few years. And Rashid, the vice-captain, is the nation’s hope in the 50-over ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held in the United Kingdom between May 30 and July 14.

At the halfway stage of IPL 2019, the Sunrisers Hyderabad spin-chief opened up to Sportstar on the World Cup, new Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib and the importance of SRH in his career.

Afghanistan has worked really hard for this World Cup. The performance in the World Cup qualifiers was top-notch. How do you feel now that the mega event is near?

We need to perform well in the World Cup this year. We don’t want to just participate and come back. We will go with a plan and as one unit.

Along with Mohammad Nabi, you had also criticised the axing of Asghar Afghan from the captaincy, but Gulbadin Naib has been around for quite sometime too...

I never think about the captain. I am only concerned about my own bowling and my performance, how well I can do for my side. We have spoken in the media but we did not question his [Naib] capabilities as captain, we spoke about the timing [of the decision] to change captains, right before the World Cup. It is not that he is not capable. I am somebody who will not interfere in the decisions of the cricket board, that is not my job. I spoke for Afghanistan. We need to do well in the tournament.

How good is IPL as a preparation tournament for the World Cup?

It is the best tournament to prepare for the World Cup because you are pitted against the best cricketers, who will eventually play at the World Cup. You also have a good support staff and coaching staff [in SRH] who take care of you, I am quite happy for that. I am happy to be here. I want to learn as many positive things and take it to the World Cup.

How difficult is it for a leg-spinner to hold on to the mystery and deception with so much cricket going around?

I think the easiest way is to be calm, relaxed and enjoy the game. You need to do whatever you can, you can’t think about the consequences, but yes, you should think about holding on to the mystery. The better thing is to know your talent and skills. You should know what is the right thing to do. It all depends on how well you know yourself. I keep focusing on my hard work and do the most I can do. I have never thought about consistency or what will happen if I fail today. I never think about such negative things.

You’ve had a fair experience of playing in England in the T20 Blast. What does a spinner need to do to succeed in those conditions?

I have played enough games to gain the experience of the pitches, and I know what is the right ball to bowl. I have been always working on different sorts of variations, which is helping me. You need to have different kinds of deliveries. I have played more than 10 to 15 games in the UK and I feel I have enough idea about the conditions. I never introduce all my deliveries in one match.

You have also been a clean-hitter of the ball. Your ODI strike-rate is 100.77 and in the IPL, it is about 170. How often do you bat in the nets?

Honestly, I don’t bat a lot at the nets; hardly 30 to 35 minutes. I think I have enough power [to clear the ropes]. The most important thing is the belief. If you believe in yourself and you are positive, you will definitely perform. I was a batsman before, and I have the skills.

You have bowled enough to Virat Kohli and also got him out while representing SRH in the IPL. How should a spinner bowl to Kohli in English conditions?

There is no shot that he [Kohli] can’t play and I haven’t seen a weak point as such. He has been the most consistent batsman in the last few years. Being a spinner, I just need to ensure that every delivery is a good one; that’s the only plan you can have against him.

Career highlights

  • ODI bowling rankings: No. 3
  • ODI all-rounder rankings: No. 1
  • T20I bowling rankings: No. 1
  • Fastest to 100 wickets in ODI cricket: 44 matches

ODI statistics

  • Matches: 57
  • Wickets: 123
  • Best bowling: 7/18
  • Runs: 782
  • Fifties: 4

Global citizen

  • Caribbean Premier League: Guyana Amazon Warriors
  • Indian Premier League: Sunrisers Hyderabad
  • Big Bash League: Adelaide Strikers
  • T20 Blast: Sussex
  • Bangladesh Premier League: Comilla Victorians
  • Shpageeza Cricket League: Band-e-Amir Dragons