Kolkata: At 22 years of age, very few cricketers around the world carry the weight of expectations like Rashid Khan. The precocious Afghanistan leg spinner, a much sought-after name in the world of T20 franchise cricket for quite a few years, is aware of it and has developed a mechanism around him to handle the pressure.
‘‘I don’t put too much pressure on myself by thinking about the expectations. My intention is to pitch the ball in the right areas that I want and focus on the line and length that I want,’’ said Rashid, now in Abu Dhabi to turn out for Lahore Qalandars in the remaining matches of Pakistan Super League VI. Lahore will square off against Islamabad United to kickstart the Abu Dhabi leg on June 9.
‘‘I want to concentrate on the process. If the process is right, the results will come automatically,’’ said Rashid, named the ICC T20 Cricketer of the Decade and promoted as the vice-captain of Afghanistan’s T20 team a few days back.
Rashid excelled in the two matches for Lahore when PSL began in Pakistan in February before leaving for national commitments. The league was then suspended midway in March with few positive cases of COVID-19 among the players before the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) shifted the remaining matches to the UAE and Lahore was fortunate enough to have him back after Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan declared his unavailability.
“I am excited to be back with PSL and Lahore Qalandars. I had couple of good games with them earlier and the team went off to a good start. I am hopeful to help them continue with the momentum, though I will have to miss some County matches,’’ Rashid said in a zoom interaction with selected media.
A matchwinner for Sunrisers Hyderabad in Indian Premier League (IPL) for years, Rashid had played a key role in helping his country’s cricketers find their foothold in franchise cricket after the seasoned Mohammed Nabi. Asked if such prolonged phases of Bio Bubble life around the world had been choking for him, Rashid laughed it off: ‘‘This is no cause for pressure as such things have become routine in last one-and-a-half years. Our job is to follow the rules and play cricket.’’
While Rashid believes that their team has the right balance in terms of experience to go all the way, he does not want to invite any pressure of the team led by Pakistan international Shadab Khan.
Attributing the experience gathered around the world helping him mature as a cricketer, Rashid said: ‘‘To be honest, the more you play, the more you understand. Looking for to play in these six games.’’
Will the wickets between that of Karachi and Abu Dhabi be any different? ‘‘I don’t think about the pitches a lot, they make no difference to my game. In Asia, conditions are not that diffierent - be it Pakistan, Afghanistan, India or the UAE,’’ he said.
The PCB had been a huge backer of Afghanistan cricket - and a number of youngsters from the latter have got breaks in PSL. ‘‘It’s a big opportunity for our players and they should take advantage of it,’’ Rashid added.