Rashid Khan has a fast bowler’s mindset in a spinner’s body with an uncompromising attitude when it comes to ripping his googlies and leg-breaks off the surface at nearly 100 kmph. At 23, the Afghan spinner is the most sought-after T20 freelancer on the global league circuit with 436 wickets in 312 games.
Having started the season with an impressive 1/27 for Gujarat Titans, Rashid is extremely hopeful that he can replicate his Sunrisers Hyderabad form for the Hardik Pandya-led franchise. So is Rashid an”aggressive fast bowler at heart” or “a scientist” ready to pull off new tricks?
“I am a “spin fast” bowler because of the pace at which I bowl. It is very hard to spin the ball at that pace and for that I think that it requires a different kind of skill-set,” Rashid told PTI in an exclusive interview.
“The speed at which I bowl is somewhere between 96 kmph to 100 kmph. It is hard to generate turn at that pace but I would rather bowl at that speed than bring it down to 70 to 75 kmph.
“I have always been a big fan of bowling quick leg spin. I have just been trying different experiments with my bowling in the nets and it’s really helping,” he added.
I am not conventional wrist spinner, ‘mystery’ is in consistency
The term ‘mystery spinner’ is a loosely used jargon to describe any slow bowler that batters find difficult to read over a consistent period of time. “I don’t always consider myself as a leg-spinner, because, spinners use a lot of wrists and I don’t use my wrists that much. I just use top of my fingers and so I am a finger spinner as well in that sense,” he said.
The ‘mystery’ comes from consistency of being able to hit the right length which can sow seeds of doubts in a batter’s minds. “It’s all about, being more consistent with line and length and whatever you are bowling — be it flipper or leg-break. As long as you have the good control over your skills and can bowl in right areas, it doesn’t matter, if there is an element of mystery or not.
“If you hit the perfect length time and again, anyone can become a mystery bowler. My length on which I have worked hard makes me different from other leg-spinners.” For Rashid what has stood out for him is having that mindset where he is ready to deliver for the team in any given situation.
“Consistency is in having that kind of mindset. Yes, that I am capable of delivering it in every stage and hardwork and belief in skill sets is something I have always had,” he stated. “Doesn’t matter where I am playing, against which opposition and what stage of the match, as long as I have that belief and skills, as long as I am giving my 100 percent, that’s what matters to me.”
Learn from greats as much as you can: my advice to Gurbaz, Noor
It’s not just Rashid himself but rising Afghan stars like keeper-opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz and spinner Noor Ahmed are also part of Gujarat Titans set-up.
“It’s a huge opportunity for both of them. I already had that discussion with them when we were playing for Afghanistan. What mindset you need to have for a big event, you need to remain fully prepared, very strong mentally.
“Two months is a long time to learn from every coach. My advice to them is simple — never think about result, it’s all about process,” he said.
“Wankhede provides kind of bounce you need as spinner”
With 55 out of 70 matches in Mumbai, Rashid feels the conditions there are conducive for spinners of his type. “The bounce is more compared to other venues but we still need to bring our A game. It’s always good for spinners in Mumbai but you do need to bring your own skill-sets,” he said.
“Don’t know what future holds but I would love to play more Tests”
Since Afghanistan’s inception to Test cricket in 2018, Rashid has got a chance to play only five Tests in which he has 34 wickets. With Afghanistan not playing too many Tests, will Rashid be happy, say, if after 15 years, he retires as the “world’s greatest ever T20 bowler”?
“Fifteen years is a long time. You don’t know where and how you will end up. Life is so unpredictable that you never know what’s going to happen the next moment. “I never had that kind of set goals for myself even for next three to five years. I always know that on a given day, I need to perform,” he said.
As far as Afghanistan’s lack of Test match exposure is concerned, Rashid hopes that in another five years, things change.
“It bad luck that we don’t play a lot of longer format games which I would have liked to play. That’s something I hope that in another five years, it changes. “So that I will be at least able to play five to 10 Test matches a year for Afghanistan,” he concluded.