Rashid Khan and the silent punch
When it comes to good first impressions, champions Gujarat Titans made all the difference. In what was a dream start for the franchise, among the many lessons it taught the cricketing world was that Rashid Khan is a match winner, even if he’s not really a match taker. counter.
After playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League for five years, Rashid decided to switch to one of two new franchises in the league. “We didn’t want to get rid of him, but we couldn’t afford it,” one of SRH’s coaches Muttiah Muralitharan said with a smile when asked in early mid-round talks. His former franchise may have tried to rationalize it by saying he wasn’t “really a wicket-taker.” However, in just his first year in the new franchise which was making its league debut, he ended up lifting the trophy.
The Afghan leg spinner, who inspired several others from his country to hone their skills and feature in the world’s top T20 leagues, was unsurprisingly among the three big names drafted into the new team alongside captain Hardik Pandya and Shubman Gil.
Read also – IPL 2022 Final: Hardik Pandya owns the stage
One of the biggest takeaways from the GT triumph was that it was the Afghan star’s first-ever T20 title, in the flesh. He was part of the Adelaide Strikers team in the Big Bash League and the Lahore Qalandars team in the Pakistan Super League that won the title in 2018 and 2022 respectively, but he had not been available in the finals .
Prior to the 2022 IPL final against the Rajasthan Royals at the colossal Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Rashid had only appeared in five finals in his T20 career. In these five games, he won only two wickets but, on the other hand, he conceded only 5.27 more runs. It’s no rocket science that teams have largely opted to play the leg spinner, who is fifth in this season’s list of most economical bowlers.
Best Economy Rate in IPL 2022
|Prashant Solanki||2||6.0||2||2/20||19.00||6.33||6:00 p.m.||0||0|
|Rashid Khan||16||63.5||19||24/4||10:15 p.m.||6.59||8:15 p.m.||1||0|
Pressure Building vs Wicket Taking
As teams continued to respect Rashid and bowl his overs, batters had to resort to taking risks against other bowlers. And that’s exactly what happened with the Royals batters in the Finals.
In an attempt to ease the pressure from Rashid in the previous overs, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer all gave their wickets to Hardik Pandya, who had also played spectacularly on the other side. He finished the game with an impressive 4-0-18-1 bowling numbers at just 4.50 points per over.
There was a less effective but similar pattern in Qualifier 1 against the same team. After Rashid played in the ninth and conceded just two runs, R Sai Kishore chose Sanju Samson’s all-important wicket in the very next due to the pressure created. At a high-scoring venue like Eden Gardens which saw nearly 380 runs scored in the game, the wrist-spinner conceded no limits. He finished the game with superb bowling numbers that read 4-0-15-0 at a miserly save rate of 3.75.
The Titans vice-captain had admitted during the league stage after GT’s five-point loss to Mumbai Indians that he wasn’t exactly playing the role of the team’s sole wicket-taker. In fact, he was making a conscious effort to be some sort of enforcer in the GT bowling lineup.
During the post-match press conference, he explained: “When you play in T20 it’s always good to take wickets but for me it’s a bit different because I always focus on the goal. economy and that’s something that puts pressure on the batters. But certainly compared to other IPLs, I’ve had fewer wickets this year. In a few games, I haven’t played as well as I did. should have. But it’s T20, there’s so much to learn.
“I relax and let it do its magic”
Even though he honed his focus on building that one-end pressure, he hadn’t completely abandoned the wicket-taking role. After all, he took 19 wickets in 16 games at a strike rate of 20.15, to be one of only four spinners in the top ten bowlers this season.
His wicket skills were on full display in the league game against LSG where he recorded his best numbers in the IPL. In that match, he hadn’t been brought to the bowling alley until the eighth over, but on his very first over, he had Krunal Pandya puzzled. He went wicketless in his second but came back in his third to take Jason Holder’s wicket. He bamboozled the big right-hander with a badly broken leg he had planned to roll over.
“I think Holder’s wicket was crucial at the time and I had anticipated it, to kick off the leggie from the center stump,” he admitted to broadcasters after the match.
In his final, which also ended up becoming the innings final, the leg spinner fired Deepak Hooda and finished his spell with 4/24 as Avesh Khan was caught behind after edging out one.
Rashid Khan bowling at the IPL
In five T20 tournament finals which include IPL 2018 against Chennai Super Kings, Desert T20 Challenge 2017, Afghan Premier League in 2018, two Shpageeza Cricket League finals in 2017 and 2018, Rashid Khan only won three wickets in 22 overs but at a rate amazing saving of 5.13.
So even in high-pressure situations such as the T20 finals, what guarantees Rashid’s stellar numbers?
“My mindset was no different in the playoffs. The energy and thought process is the same everywhere. But the teams play it safe against me. So I try to keep it tight, which increases the chances of picking up wickets for the bowler at the other end. Whether it’s a league game or a knockout game, my mindset is to play in a certain area. I don’t try anything different. My goal is to create pressure,” Rashid explained ahead of the final against RR.
During the season, he also revealed that he had to adjust his lengths after some players on hitting-friendly pitches figured out how to tackle him. He reduced the length in the second half of the season to play economically and keep the opponents’ scorecard in check.
In the post-match press conference after Qualifying 1 at Eden Gardens, captain Pandya spoke about his assistant Rashid saying: “When I give him the ball, I relax and let him do his magic.”
On the night of the IPL 2022 final, in an electric stadium as a crowd of over a million watched, Rashid Khan spoke of a magic trick that won the title.