Rashid: 'Hope to translate limited-over success into the longer version'

Rashid Khan justified his top ranking in T20 by emerging as the ‘Player-of-the-Series’ during the just-concluded three-match series against Bangladesh. But the Afghanistan leggie has quickly turned his focus on the country’s first Test starting against India in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Rashid Khan justified his top ranking in T20 by emerging as the ‘Player-of-the-Series’ during the just-concluded three-match series against Bangladesh. But the Afghanistan leggie has quickly turned his focus on the country’s first Test starting against India in Bengaluru on Thursday.

In a chat with Sportstar, Rashid feels fitness will be the key for Afghanistan to adapt to the challenges of Test cricket.

Excepts…

What is your first memory of Test cricket?

Can’t really remember the first match I watched on TV but I have loved watching Test matches since childhood. The Ashes, I would never miss watching it. I love Test cricket because it’s the ultimate test of a cricketer and I am thrilled to be finally playing a Test. We hope to translate our limited-over success into the longer version.

What is the relevance of Test cricket for a youngster like you?

Test cricket is the biggest platform to improve and learn from for young cricketers like me. There is room for you to experiment with your skill-set, something that you can’t afford in T20. As a bowler, you can try out all your variations. I am fortunate to get an opportunity to play Test cricket so early. It will make me a better cricketer.

Do young cricketers from other teams also feel the same?

For sure. Whenever I discuss the topic with my younger teammates or those from other countries, everyone looks forward to playing Tests. They are keen to bowl long spells, play long innings and improve themselves.

When did you first think Afghanistan could actually play Test matches?

Even before I came into the squad, the seniors would aspire to get the Test status. But the biggest moment was the manner in which we fared in the 2016 World T20 in India. We gave a tough time to virtually every opponent; we were unlucky to have lost many matches but the way we played, we had it in us to sustain at the highest level. That performance on the back of a poor 2015 World Cup outing in Australia turned out to be a game-changer for me.

You have played just four First Class matches. How do you plan to adapt for Tests?

It’s true that we haven’t played as much longer format cricket over the last two years as white-ball cricket, so it would obviously be challenging to adapt. The key for me is fitness and over the last few months, I have brought a lot of changes into my fitness regimen. I’m confident that my intensity level while bowling would be the same on the fifth day as it would be on the first. As long as you stand your ground firm, nobody can beat you in Test matches. Our main challenge is to switch off from the limited-over mode and turn on the Test match mode. If we can make it happen, I am confident we can compete with India.

Do you see yourself as a genuine all-rounder?

Definitely. I started off as a batsman and then the bowling took over. Even now, irrespective of the position I bat at, I consider myself as a proper batsman. Whether I bat at No. 8, 9 or 10, I always try to optimise my talent and help the team out.