Ground Report | New Delhi: Rashid Khan’s match-winning performance Rashid Khan comes to bowl in the 275th match of his six-year T20 career, playing for his 13th different team at 64th different ground under his 23rd captain. Most of the Hundred’s stars dropped out overseas long before the start of this season, but the Trent Rockets made Khan their No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and he is not one to disappoint.
Khan smashed 70 for 1 off 40 balls in an essential game for the Rockets with Manchester Originals, with Phil Salt, his Sussex and Adelaide Strikers teammate, and one of his best friends in cricket. The first ball from Khan is a low full toss towards leg stump and descends to salt sweep, a direct catch to Samit Patel at short fine leg.
There is no gleeful celebration, Instead, Khan smiles sly, Lewis blinks at Gregory, and then fists. Two balls later, Colin Ackerman attempted a sweep, and a wicked googly hit the shoulder, sending him lbw. Khan made an appeal, then high-fives Tom Moores with his tongue sticking out.
Khan takes a brilliant running catch in the next set of five, then delivers a quick yorker to Carlos Brathwaite to pick up the third wicket in his first six balls. Originals have lost five wickets for four runs and Khan is involved in all of them. His trademark airplane festivities unfold before his teammates gather crowds. He turned the game upside down in a span of ten minutes.
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Rashid Khan’s match-winning performance
Khan’s 381st, 382nd, and 383rd wickets in his T20 career have lifted him to fifth on the all-time list, and the sacrifice he has made to become the world’s best spinner in the format is enormous. He told the Observer ahead of the tournament that he had spent 25 days at home in the last five years and had lost both his parents in the last three years. “I don’t get enough time to be with family, but at the same time this is the beginning of my career so I have to struggle,” he said.
On Sunday, his tweet after the Taliban forcibly seized Kabul, prompting the president and thousands of foreign nationals to flee, was particularly straightforward: “Peace,” followed by three prayer emojis and three Afghan flags.
Patel, his teammate, admitted that Khan was “pressured” compared to his usual spirited self. “He wasn’t as excited as normal, and that’s understandable,” he said. “It’s so refreshing and we had the game to focus on, which was a good distraction for him. He tried to put up a match-winning performance and it comes from within him.
Kevin Pietersen about Rashid Khan
Former England captain and current presenter Kevin Pietersen shared how Rashid has been on top of his game and brought the goods despite being on his way back home to his native Afghanistan.
As per Pietersen, he is constantly trying to track down his whereabouts in an effort to reach his loved ones as the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is not operating scheduled flights due to land instability and political turmoil.
“We had a long conversation here at the boundary talking about this and he’s worried: he can’t get his family out of Afghanistan and a lot of things are happening to him,” Pietersen told Sky Sports.
“For him to turn on this kind of performance and perform under the pressure that requires him to forget all that stuff and navigate his story and continue the momentum he has – I think That’s probably one of the most heartwarming stories of this hundred ever,” Peterson said.
World class blower
Khan is ubiquitous in T20 cricket across the world: you can flick on any game from any league across the globe and there is every chance that he will play, celebrate or slice helicopter shots for six over points. No one has played as many games as him in the format since his debut in 2015 and no one has taken as many wickets. (Rashid Khan’s match-winning performance)
The result is that we take this incident lightly. Khan is a 22-year-old Afghan who bowls fast leg-spin and hits sixes everywhere from Adelaide to Abu Dhabi and Trent Bridge to Trinidad. He has been a guide for the cricketers of his country to such an extent that every team in the world wants him to play for them.
His life and his career unfold against a constant backdrop of bloodshed and pain at home, at a time when most people have associated the word ‘Afghanistan’ with war rather than a country. It goes to Khan’s credit that even in the backdrop of political turmoil and internal strife, many now associate it with him as well.