No one can read Rashid, says Tom Moody

Australian coach Tom Moody, who has watched Rashid Khan from close quarters during the latter's time with Sunrisers Hyderabad, feels adapting to different conditions has been key to the leg-spinner's success.

Despite playing in almost all the franchise-based leagues around the world, Rashid retains his element of surprise.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Last year, when Sunrisers Hyderabad roped in a certain Rashid Khan for the Indian Premier League (IPL), not many had heard of the teenager.

But the picture has changed drastically over the last year and a half. Once a rookie, Rashid has now emerged as the top-ranked bowler in T20 cricket. Performing consistently, the 19-year-old is now the biggest sporting superstar in Afghanistan.

Sunrisers’ head coach, Tom Moody, who has seen Rashid from close quarters over the last couple of years, believes that the spinner will bamboozle the Indian batsmen on Afghanistan's Test debut in Bengaluru, irrespective of the turn on offer.

READ: Lalchand Rajput: ‘Rashid is playable’

“Rashid will welcome the opportunity to bowl in Bengaluru and whether the ball turns or not, he will still create enough headaches for the batsmen over the five days,” Moody tells Sportstar on Saturday.

The Australian coach also admits that the experience of playing in Bengaluru during the IPL will benefit Rashid. “It is an advantage that you know about your surroundings. He has bowled in Bengaluru earlier and has bowled plenty of times around the country. Obviously, with Afghanistan based in Delhi (Greater Noida), they are pretty familiar with the conditions there."

“No one reads him. I am yet to see someone successfully read whether he is bowling the wrong ‘un, the leg-spin or the top-spin," Tom Moody on Rashid Khan.

Adapting to various conditions has never been a problem for Rashid, according to Moody. “I don’t think conditions are a big factor for Rashid because we have seen him come down to Australia in the Big Bash League and adapt very quickly to the wickets and have success on the surfaces here.”

Despite playing in almost all the franchise-based leagues around the world, Rashid retains his element of surprise. He emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in the IPL this season, scalping 21 in 17 games. So, what's the secret to his success?

READ: Kuldeep braces up for 'tough' competition with Rashid

Moody feels the answer is simple. “No one reads him. I am yet to see someone successfully read whether he is bowling the wrong ‘un, the leg-spin or the top-spin. So, his deception is still a big weapon. Also, the speed at which he bowls and the speed at which the ball comes off the wicket is a great asset. If you combine those two things together, it is a pretty formidable task for any batsman to make the necessary changes.”

Moody, though, admits there is no point in comparing his performances in shorter versions of the game and longer formats. "T20 cricket is very different from 50-overs and Test cricket. We have had the pleasure of watching Rashid from close quarters in T20 cricket and we watched how he has evolved and dominated in that format,” Moody says.

READ: Afghanistan to decide team based on surface

While Test whites will pose a different challenge, Moody is certain that "Rashid's skill and his cricket awareness will enable him to adapt very quickly. He is a very smart cricketer. He understands and reads the game pretty well. 

"I am sure he has spoken to a lot of people and has thought very carefully what his approach is going to be,” he adds.

Moody also noted that bowling longer spells and waiting for the batsmen to make mistakes will test Rashid.  “The difference is that he (Rashid) does not have to make an impact in the four overs like he does in T20 cricket.

"In Tests, it is a long journey and he will have to be a lot more patient to get the result he would normally get for the quick turnaround in T20 cricket,” the seasoned coach explains.

When he came into the IPL last year, there were doubts whether Rashid would be able to sustain his effectiveness for long, but he has been able to raise the bar. “There is no doubt that he has developed as a bowler over the last 12 months. He is physically more robust and has focused on his strength and conditioning. He is very dedicated with regards to his whole well-being,” Moody says.

As Afghanistan gears up for its much-awaited Test debut on June 14, the team would be hoping the youngster comes good against a star-studded Indian batting line-up.