Mumbai: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has backed Afghan teenager Rashid Khan to transfer his explosive T20 form to Test cricket, labelling the 19-year-old leg spinner “the full package”.
Khan excelled with ball and bat as the Williamson-led Sunrisers Hyderabad finished runners-up in the Indian Premier League, losing to the Chennai Super Kings in Sunday’s final.
His attention now turns to Afghanistan’s historic debut Test against India in Bengaluru next month and Williamson believes Khan has what it takes to succeed in the five-day game.
“He’s a world-class player. We’ve seen that in this format,” Williamson told reporters after Hyderabad’s eight-wicket loss to Chennai at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
“It’s great that he’s going to be playing some Test cricket and I think [it] is a challenge for anyone, but an enjoyable challenge because he is right up there with the top spinners in the game,” Williamson added.
Khan has become one of cricket’s hottest properties over the past year and is currently ranked the world’s top bowler in T20 internationals.
In March the teen sensation became the fastest bowler to reach 100 One Day International wickets.
Hyderabad paid $1.32 million (Dh4.847 million) for him at the IPL XI auction in January. Khan justified the hefty price tag by going on to grab 21 wickets in 17 matches.
The teenager also showed that he can bat and field. His 10-ball 34 and three crucial wickets fired Sunrisers to a 14-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Qualifier 2 on Friday.
“I wouldn’t hesitate in saying he is the best spinner in the world in this format… (and) he’s got some batting skills as well,” Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar wrote on Twitter afterwards.
Khan also took two catches on the boundary off consecutive balls in the final over as he grabbed the man-of-the-match award.
The leg-spinner could not repeat those exploits in the final, returning figures of 0-24, as Australian veteran Shane Watson smashed 117 not out to lead Chennai to their third IPL title.
But Williamson lavished praise on the right-hander. “Fantastic bowler — the full package. It was great to have him in the side and he had a brilliant year,” said the New Zealand batsman.
War-torn Afghanistan will make history on June 14 when they walk out for their first-ever Test match. They secured the prestigious status last year along with Ireland.
Since gaining ODI status in 2009 the Afghans have made giant strides, reaching the 50-over World Cup for the first time in 2015.
Afghanistan have also qualified for next year’s World Cup.