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Rashid, the Afghan leggie who learned on his own

  • Published at 07:23 pm September 27th, 2016
  • Last updated at 07:31 pm September 27th, 2016
Rashid, the Afghan leggie who learned on his own
The visiting Afghanistan team have three leg-spinners in the squad for the Bangladesh ODIs. Probably the best among the lot is the 18-year old Rashid Khan, who has already impressed everyone with his accurate bowling, especially his googly. He picked up the wickets of Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman, both with his googly, during the first ODI in Mirpur on Sunday. He bowled superbly, conceding only 37 runs from his quota of 10 overs. The cricketer, hailing from Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, made his ODI debut even before featuring for the Under-19s in the U-19 World Cup earlier this year in Bangladesh and lists Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi as his inspiration. Mazhar Uddin of Dhaka Tribune Sport spoke with the cricketer to find out about his journey in international cricket and also his future plans. Here are the excerpts: How did you get into age-level cricket? What was the process? When I started playing cricket in Afghanistan, first I played domestic in Grade 1 and 2. And after playing that, I got into the A team. After performing there, I got selected for the U-19 World Cup side. And after performing there, I directly went to the national side. What were the facilities like when you were growing up? Basically I am from Nangarhar. Before, we had no facilities as we have today as we play too many games nowadays. We had a few local academies where we used to play and learn cricket. But now, Masha Allah, there are lots of academies. We have four-five grounds where we play matches, even international games as well. But still, we have to improve our cricket. We have a lot of work to do and build more grounds for cricket. Who inspired you to bowl leg-spin? I just saw Shahid Afridi on TV and learned from there as I like the way he bowls. Still, I am trying to develop a few other deliveries and working a lot. Hopefully when I meet him (Afridi), I will learn more from him. Have you spoken to any leg-spinner? So far I have only spoken with the Indian leg-spinner Piyush Chawla when we had a camp in India. I spoke to him and learned from him. He just told me, “Your everything is ok, just try to bowl a little bit slower”. You were quite young when you made your international debut. How was the experience? It was a huge surprise for me as they called me for the national side. I went to Zimbabwe and played against them. I talked with all the coaches, (including) our U-19 coach Dawlat Ahmazi, before leaving for Zimbabwe. And he just told me, “Keep yourself calm and play your cricket. Just go there and play positive”. I just did the same. You have already played quite a few international matches. For a leg-spinner, obviously there is room for you to play T20 cricket. Are you interested in T20 cricket as there are a lot of T20 leagues all over the world? Yes, you know my bowling is especially (made) for the T20s as I bowl a bit quicker. Hopefully, first I am trying to play for my country and then if I get an opportunity to play in any league, I am ready for that. There are lots of talks regarding giving the Test status to Afghanistan and Ireland. Do you dream of playing Test cricket? Yeah, it's the dream of every boy in our team to play Test cricket against Test nations. So we are working hard for it. The [Afghanistan Cricket] board is trying and we are getting a lot of facilities to play Test cricket. So hopefully we will play Test cricket soon. What does your family say when you go back home? They are now feeling so proud for me for the way I performed in the U-19 World Cup and then the Zimbabwe series. So they are proud of me. And I am getting so much love from Nangarhar and also from the whole country. People are so keen to watch cricket and they are so loveable with the players. Are you the only one who plays cricket in your family? Yeah, I am the only one who plays cricket professionally. But my brothers also play with the tennis ball. All players in our country start with the tennis ball and then with the cricket ball. I am number six among our seven brothers. You like batting as well. Can we call you an all-rounder? Actually when I started playing cricket, I was a batsman as I used to open, bat at one down or two down position. But later, when I started bowling leg-spin, still I could bat well. But my team needs my bowling, also my batting, so whenever they give the chance, hopefully I will try to give my best. Afghanistan possess a lot of senior players in their ranks, for instance Mohammad Nabi who used to be the captain. Who is your favourite player in the team? The senior players, especially [Mohammad] Shahzad, Asghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi, they really supported me throughout my career. You know, when I came to the national side, they really supported me in every (aspect), whether it's fielding, bowling or batting. My favourite player is Mohammad Nabi and I like his batting and watching him play. What about Shahzad? Does he bother you in the dressing room as he is a funny character? Yeah, he is always a funny person as he bothers all the players, not only me. But it feels great to be with him. He is a great person as we all enjoy his presence.
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