Rashid Khan is a phenomenal T20 player and a globetrotter. However, without his success in the IPL, it was unlikely that he would have gotten such a massive recognition in world cricket. After almost half a decade with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Afghanistan leg-spinner is now part of the Gujarat Titans. Khan spoke to Moneycontrol.com on his journey and ambition in a candid interaction. Here is an edited excerpt.
Q: Rarely does it happen that the stature of a player gets bigger than his country in any sports. But that is what seems to have happened with you.
Khan: Well, sometimes it still feels like a dream whenever I think of my journey in cricket. I am representing my country everywhere. Just six-seven years back, Afghanistan wasn’t playing as many matches (as they are playing now) and our players weren’t active in different leagues across the world. However, a lot has changed since then. I am really proud that I have played my part (in making Afghanistan prominent). I have been playing in the Indian Premier League for so many years now and have made fellow countrymen very proud of my performances. I intend to keep doing that. I am enjoying myself and feeling blessed.
Q: You were synonymous with SRH over the last half decade. As long as your four overs were there, no team could think about winning the game. In this year’s auction, you got a whopping INR 15 crore and now you are part of a team which is trying to make its mark in its debut season. Will your role be the same?
Khan: I will have the same plan. My performance, preparations, process and plan remain same. My cricket won’t change. My mindset will be the same and I will try to ensure that I remain as effective as I have been for the last five years in this competition. The team (Gujarat Titans) may be a new one in the IPL, the jersey may have changed, the captain may have changed but cricket won’t change, right? Whatever I know I will do my best. This is a new and different team but I will try to keep things simple and would like to enjoy my cricket.
Q: Do you sometimes pinch yourself that someone who learnt to bowl leg-spin by watching videos on YouTube can be so successful in the T20 format with over 400 (435 in 311 games@ an average of17.40) wickets and playing for more than two dozen teams across the world?
Khan: As I just said earlier it is all surreal. If someone had told me about what I would achieve in the next five years (in 2016), I would have just thought that as a dream. It has been an unbelievable journey so far. But then, when you have got the skills and talent, (you have to work harder). When I came here (in India) for the first time in 2017 I got a great exposure. I tried to learn a lot from my team and other players. I specially focussed on fitness because it was very important if I wanted to have a longer career. Whichever areas I was weak, I tried to improve. I have reached a certain stage (in terms of success) but to sustain that kind of success is my motto. I have learnt the value of consistence in my game.
Q: Your thoughts on playing under Hardik Pandya, who is leading for the first time not only in the IPL but any competitive tournament?
Khan: He is an aggressive player and enjoys his cricket. That kind of captain always expects 100 percent from you whatever you do. Whether it is bowling, batting, fielding or team’s result. His mindset is same. Pandya as captain is someone who is very supportive, gives you the ownership and asks you to show your skillset. His style won’t change a s a cricketer. I haven’t played much so can’t form an opinion right now and will be able to do that later.
Q: How about your rapport with someone like Yuzvendra Chahal who has been a very successful leg-spinner in the IPL?Khan: Chahal has been superb for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and for India as well. He has been very consistent over the years and he is the best spinner. He has bowled tough overs for the RCB and India. Especially in a tournament like IPL, he has played mostly in grounds like Chinnaswamy stadium which is never easy for a leg-spinner.