18 June, 2021

Kabuliwala’s Bag Of Tricks

With the googly and a disarming smile, Rashid Khan confounds batsmen and raises high his national flag

Afghan Pride
Rashid Khan in New Delhi
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
Kabuliwala’s Bag Of Tricks

Then it was ‘Kabuliwala’, legendary actor Balraj Sahni’s poignantly endearing, avuncular Afghan in the film adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s story who won everyone’s heart. Now, is Rashid Khan, all of 18, spinning a different romance on the cricket field.

In his very second match for defending champions SunRisers Hyderabad, the mystery bowler tied Gujarat Lions batsmen in a variety of knots and tangles. The leg-spinner won the Man of the Match in that encounter for his three-wicket burst —and has not looked back since. He got his first wicket with his fifth delivery in the IPL, and has looked better in every game. His first victim, the fearsome Brendon McCullum, was felled by a googly that the New Zealander completely failed to read and was trapped LBW. In his next over a flummoxed Aaron Finch perished in the same manner. And in his third over, he had captain Suresh Raina trapped in front with a conventional leg-break. The world first saw Rashid Khan through the web he had spun.

“Initially, I was under a bit of pressure...

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