There’s a certain aura that surrounds Rashid Khan.
It’s like being the first graduate from a comparatively inferior village. You are looked up to. Your advice and suggestions are of paramount importance. You aren’t just the lion of your own herd. There is a certain degree of respect that you command after stepping out of your own dwelling as well.
That’s Rashid Khan for you; Afghanistan’s first superstar cricketer; who plies his trade in every major T20 league in the country. Sure, there have been the Asghar Afghans and the Mohammed Nabis, but Rashid is the one who has attained global recognition at the superlative level.
And there is a specific reason behind it.
One can do the same thing again and again, day in day out, and acquire the level of consistency that one needs to succeed in international cricket.
Rashid does the same; but, all of it.
He bowls like a shrewd spinner. He bats like a maverick with no restrictions. More interestingly, he is a gun fielder too. Now, he leads the side, and in his first major assignment, seems to be doing that with aplomb as well.
It’s just difficult to keep him out of action, out of public glare. Stardom comes naturally to him. Khan does not have to do something outwardly for the same. He can go about his business, and the eye of the audience will never desert him.
That does make captaincy difficult, doesn’t it?
We have seen the best of players succumb to the pressures of leadership. Joe Root, was seemingly on his way to become England’s greatest modern-day batsman but was bogged down by the demands of headship. Many, including me, feared that Rashid too was given the mantle way too early in his career.
After all, he had just come off a below-par World Cup and the muddle that his country’s cricket administration is, one would seemingly have wanted the wily leggie to be gratis of those complications.
However, easy-going characters find themselves encapsulating the rigors of this leadership job somewhat easily too. At his natural best, Rashid is a very unruffled individual, friendly with the opposition both on and off the field.
If this rubs on well with his captaincy, there would be little complaints regarding the same. What we witnessed in the Test match against Bangladesh does give promising signs for the coming future.
He appeared unperturbed. The bowling changes were accurate, with hardly a moment of agitation visible on his face. He went about his way, in a nonchalantly like-able way and undoubtedly attracted some credible amount of respect and adherence from his teammates.
In many ways, this gauges well with his bowling in Tests. This year has somewhat showed us, that after an initial period of incredible surge in his career, Rashid needs to upgrade his armory if he were to lengthen his impact as a leggie.
For a wrist-spinner, he delivered the conventional ball way too less for one’s liking. Whenever he did, he made sure that the batsman was outfoxed by the sheer unpredictability of it, but unfortunately he used that option on countable occasions only.
Now, the five-day game demands you to have all skills up your sleeve, as there are no fixed number of overs and, hence, accordingly there should be variations to fall back on if one particular one fails to extract the required result that day.
Rashid, undoubtedly, seems to be grasping this thought process adequately.
He is willing to try the more conventional delivery, amalgamating it with the googlies and the flippers that have earned him much success early on. His greatest strength as a spinner is the control that he maintains over his deliveries. Until the batsman opts to go for an expansive slog-sweep or a drive, there are very few options to take him to the cleaners considering the stringently tight line that he prefers while bowling.
Accordingly, if he is successful in finding the perfect balance between the two deliveries; one going out from the right-hander, and the other coming in to him, Rashid is surely going to accomplish a lot more laurels in Test cricket.
His batting, well that’s a topic for another day. The utter unpredictability yet enthrallment that it evokes somewhat gives one an idea of his eminence among the people as well.
Rashid, the batsman, is everything that Rashid the bowler isn’t.
With the ball in his hand, control is his most powerful asset. With the willow, he doesn’t mind going full bonkers. With the ball, he has some uncanny deliveries up his sleeve. With the willow, he whacks the length ball in the most trademark fashion that a lower-order batsman would.
Of course, there is talent in his batting. But, he just lets himself loose and reaps the rewards even then.
His captaincy though, needs to be an appropriate blend of both. Controlled aggression, the word says. Rashid is all about control whilst bowling. He is unabashedly aggressive with the bat. Can he weave the fusion of both during captaincy?
Only time will tell.