Afghanistan’s shining star

June 20, 2021

Leggie Rashid Khan has mesmerised cricket fans around the globe with his guile at a very young age

Whenever we think of Afghanistan, the first image that comes to mind is of destruction caused by the fighting going on there for the last three decades.But on the other hand, Afghanistan has become an emerging force in the game of cricket in the last few years. With their inspiring performance they left Zimbabwe, Ireland and other cricketing nation behind in just a few years.

Afghanistan got Test status alongside Ireland in 2017. The Afghans shocked the world when they became the joint-second quickest, after England and Pakistan, to record their maiden win in one of their first two Tests.

Currently, Afghanistan stand on 10th place in the ICC ODI team ranking, above Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Afghanistan are more competitive in the shortest format as they stand on 7th position in the ICC T20 team ranking. Even Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies and Ireland are behind them.

In the current squad, Rashid Khan is the most recognisable Afghan cricketer in the world. The Afghan spin wizard has emerged as one of the greatest leg-spinners in the global cricketing circuit in recent times.

Rashid Khan Arman was born on September 20, 1998, in a village, but his teenage was spent in a refugee camp in Peshawar. Since his childhood he has been a fan of Pakistani allrounder Shahid Afridi.

He is lucky that without proper coaching and having played very few domestic matches, he didn’t have to wait long to play international cricket. Just after his 17th birthday, he got the opportunity to play for Afghanistan.

Rashid’s variation with the bowling is one of the main reasons of his success. That’s why the Afghan sensation features in almost world’s all T20 cricket leagues, be it in Australia, England, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or the West Indies.

Rashid made his One-Day International debut for Afghanistan against Zimbabwe in October 2015, and also made his Twenty20 International debut against the same opponentd later that month.

At the age of just 22, Rashid Khan has mesmerised the world with his classic spin bowling against all opponents. Having only six years international experience he holds many records.

Rashid is the fastest bowler to claim 100 ODI wickets in just 44 matches. Before him Australia’s Mitchell Starc had taken 100 wickets in 52 ODIs.

He also has the best ODI career average of 18.57, better than West Indian great Joel Garner (18.84) and former Australian bowler Ryan Harris (18.90).

In the shortest format, Rashid is the second fastest to complete 50 wickets in 31 T20 matches. Former Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis completed 50 wickets in 26 matches.

Rashid is currently the second best bowler in the ICC Twenty20 Bowlers Ranking with 719 points after South African left-arm spinner Tabriz Shamsi who is on the top with 732 points.

Rashid is the youngest captain in the One-day International history. He led Afghanistan at the age of 19 years and 165 days against Scotland at Bulawayo on March 4, 2018.

He is the also youngest ever Test captain at the age of 20 years and 350 days. Rashid surpassed Zimbabwe’s former captain Tatenda Taibu’s record in Afghanistan’s one-off Test match against Bangladesh in Chattogram in September 2019.

In March 2021, Rashid Khan created a record when he bowled 99.2 overs in a single Test in March against Zimbabwe at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. He surpassed former Australian legend Shane Warne’s record of 98 overs in a Test which he had set against South Africa in Cape Town in March 2002.

In the first innings, Rashid claimed 4-138 from 36.3 overs. In the second innings, the spinner took 7-137 in 62.5 overs.

Rashid Khan was named Men’s T20I Player of the Decade by the International Cricket Council in December 2020, just five years after he made his debut. He received this award for his incredible performance as he amassed 89 wickets in 48 games at an average of just 12.62. Rashid was also picked by the ICC in the Twenty20 Team of the Decade.

It’s not just his wicket-taking ability that has made him famous. His economy rate is also exceptional, conceding 6.14 runs per over in T20 format.

But Rashid Khan also has an unwanted record, that of conceding second most runs — 110 in nine overs against England on June 18, 2019, at Manchester. Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz also conceded 110 runs in 10 overs against England in 2016 at Nottingham. Former Australia bowler Mick Lewis conceded 113 runs against South Africa in 2006 in Johannesburg.

Surprisingly, Rashid failed at the World Cup 2019 in England. In nine matches, he managed only six wickets at a high average of 69.33, much higher than his overall ODI average of 18.57.

Rashid Khan has impressed the cricket world after helping to drive his team Sunrisers Hyderabad into the Indian Premier League (IPL) finals in 2018. Rashid delivered a 10-ball 34, 3-19, a key run-out, and two high-pressure catches in the final over to drive his team to IPL finals.

After that performance, Sachin Tendulkar labeled him “the best spinner” in the world in this format.

Rashid has played five Tests (34 wickets), 74 One-day Internationals (140 wickets) and 51 Twenty20 Internationals (95 wickets) averaging 22.35, 18.57 and 12.63, respectively.

If he continues his outstanding performance, he could break many records created by spin greats Shane Warne and Muttiah Muraliatharan.

Afghanistan’s shining star