David Warner calls him a superstar in the making, VVS Laxman says he is a champion bowler, while his Afghanistan teammate Mohammad Nabi claims he still can’t pick some of his variations in the nets. Rashid Khan is the talk of the town. As if his Afghanistan origin and a million-dollar purse at the auctions weren’t enough to create waves, Rashid has been playing all the right notes - courtesy some spellbinding wrist spin.
His IPL debut game saw him pick 2 wickets and on Sunday afternoon he bettered it by picking up three, giving away 19 miserly runs in his quota of four overs. Not intimidated by the stage or the batting prowess in the opposition, Rashid bamboozled the Gujarat Lions with his craft. In a kind of firsts, we at iplt20.com had Sunrisers Hyderabad’s mentor VVS Laxman don the interviewer’s hat and got him to serve a few questions to the leggie Rashid. Read on to find out more about Laxman’s interesting tete-a-tete with the bowler from Afghanistan.
VVSLaxman: As a franchise the Sunrisers Hyderabad are very pleased to have Rashid in our team. Today he was the man of the moment and it was a fantastic performance against the Gujarat Lions. Let me understand how he felt after that performance.Today’s performance aside, how did it feel to play the first match in front of a packed stadium?
Rashid Khan: It felt great and it is so different from what you watch on TV. To come here, play in the tournament in front of such big crowds and with big names, it feels surreal. I did feel some pressure in the first game, but the coaching staff and captain have motivated me and given me the confidence and self-belief to perform well.
VVS: Fantastic to hear that Rashid, but what were your expectations before coming to the IPL?
Rashid: I never set myself goals that I had to get a lot of wickets or put up man of the match performances. All I focused was on bowling according to the conditions and team’s gameplan. All I wanted to do is to give my hundred percent for the team in whatever capacity.
VVS view-point: I have to tell you guys that Rashid is very modest. The first time I met him was before our first game. In the practice session itself he came across as a very confident player. He has tremendous self-confidence.
VVS: Rashid, you are a great role model for the cricketers in Afghanistan. They are all looking forward to many more such performances. Let’s get to today’s game; how did it feel when David Warner gave you the ball in the powerplay?
Rashid: He asked me to bowl in the powerplay in the first match as well and I did a pretty decent job. I took that confidence into this game. Warner asked me to bowl freely without any inhibitions or second thoughts. He told me, Rashid, “Give it your best and don’t worry about going for runs.” I just did that and I got success.
VVS view-point: Indeed, excellent bowling there in the powerplay, Rashid. I can promise to all of you that even in the practice sessions, none of our batsmen are able to pick him. Infact, we had our wicket-keepers Naman Ojha &EklavyaDwivedido two practice sessions with him just to see if they were able to pick his wrong ‘uns and other variations. Both were a bit clueless as to which way the ball was going. I don’t want to discuss his variations (laughs) because this is just the start of the tournament and we want him to be a puzzle for most teams. Picking up wickets is very crucial and that is the expectation that the team has from him.
VVS: This is where my last question comes in for Rashid. While bowling in the powerplays, do you look to pick wickets or restrict the batsmen? What is your mindset?
Rashid: Actually, I had in mind that I had to finish off the powerplay overs well without giving away too many. Warner asked me to wrap up the powerplay overs without giving away much. That kind of a mindset helped me get wickets in the process.
VVS view-point: What is amazing to see is the kind of maturity he has shown playing his first IPL. He has shown tremendous confidence against big players like Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch & Jason Roy –hard hitters of the cricket ball and Suresh Raina, one of the best players of spin bowling. He was not overawed by the occasion and that is the mark of a champion bowler according to me. We are happy to have Rashid in our side and I wish him all the best for the games ahead.
Rashid: Thank you so much Laxman bhai.