October 26, 2015
A 17-year old Rashid Khan made his T20 debut (not just T20I) representing Afghanistan against Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe side were 100/0 in 12.2 overs when Rashid took a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Sikandar Raza as his first T20 wicket. He picked 1/20 in his four overs.
7 years, 2 months and 29 days later, on January 23, he completed the feat of 500 wickets in the format, becoming only the second bowler and first spinner to do so.
Who would have thought that a youngster with a slight double chin, who seems far far away from the modern-day fitness standards for a teenager will end up as one of the most influential bowlers in the format.
In his first year, Rashid played only 14 matches but grabbed 19 wickets, averaging 19.8 at an economy of 6.8. All these games were for Afghanistan, including the T20 World cup.
But soon, world cricket saw the X-factor in his bowling.
Aged 18, he made his IPL debut for SRH, played in BPL and CPL. Till date, it has been the best year of his cricketing year as Rashid played 54 T20s around the globe, pocketing 85 wickets at 13.8 runs apiece at an economy of 5.7. These are unbelievable numbers. Rashid Khan became a superstar at the age of 18.
Over the next two years of his life, he maintained similar standards of consistency, playing over 50 games, picking more than 70 wickets, averaging under 20 at an economy of 6.5 or under. The only thing that changed was more T20 contracts came his way.
Being 21 has been the hardest year of his cricketing career as yet, where Rashid pouched 42 wickets in 40 innings, but at an average of 24.7. It remains the only year of his life where he had an economy of over 7 (7.1). But he soon got back to his usual business in the next two years. Aged 23, Rashid took 98 wickets. However, he also played 74 T20s, the most for him in a space of 365 days. Picking 3/16 for MI Cape Town on Monday, Rashid reached the landmark of 500 wickets.
Second best average for a bowler
In all T20s, Rashid has 500 wickets at an average of 18.2 and has bagged a wicket every 17.1 balls. Among 63 bowlers who have bagged 200+ wickets, only Saeed Ajmal (17.5) has a better average.
With a low average, it is evident that his economy is also on the lower side. He has an economy of 6.4, which is also the best after Sunil Narine (6.0) from the above-mentioned criteria.
Puzzling the batters
In T20s, especially among spinners, caught is the most common mode of dismissal. They deceive batters by flight or spin which is a no-brainer. However, Rashid is one of the rare breeds of spinners that defies this logic.
Out of his 500 wickets, 270 have come through bowled or LBW, leading to 54%. He has pouched 163 wickets through bowled, and 107 through LBW, both are the most for a bowler in T20s.
Growing to a stature rapidly at a young age
The leading wicket-taker in T20s, Dwayne Bravo has 614 wickets at the age of 39 years. Imagine, Rashid is not even 25 and already has 500 wickets in the shortest format. He is not only the fastest to achieve this milestone but also the youngest.
In fact, Rashid is the youngest and fastest to reach the landmark of 200, 300 and 400 wickets as well. He is the second youngest and the joint-third fastest to 100 wickets in all T20s.
However, in international T20s, he is the youngest (23 years and 39 days) and the fastest (53 innings) to 100 wickets.
The knack of taking wickets regularly
There are very few innings in international T20s where Rashid hasn’t picked up a wicket. He has been wicketless in only 13 out of the 74 T20Is.
Rashid has bagged at least one wicket in 82.2 percent of the innings he has bowled. Among bowlers who have 50+ wickets in T20Is, only Graeme Swann (84.2) and Imran Tahir (82.9) have a higher percentage.
To decipher it more, Rashid has two wickets or more in 35 innings and a four-plus wicket haul in six innings. His six four-plus wicket hauls are the joint most for a bowler in international T20s, leveled with Shakib Al Hasan and Umar Gul.
First ever spinner to bag a hat-trick in T20Is
Brett Lee, against Bangladesh in the 2007 T20 World Cup, was the first ever bowler to bag a hat-trick in T20Is. After 12 years, Rashid became the first spinner to take a hat-trick. In between, there were five hat-tricks and all belonged to the pacers.
Facing Ireland in 2019 in Dehradun, Rashid picked struck on the last ball of the 16th over, and the first three balls of the 18th over. Thus, he not only was the first spinner to a hat-trick, but also the first ever bowler to snaffle four wickets in four balls in T20Is.
At present, he averages 26.4 for his 18 wickets since turning 24. You may feel he is fading away but he still has ample time at his hands to breach the landmark of 1000 T20 wickets, especially with the amount of non-stop cricket he plays. A day after completing Afghanistan's ODI series in Sri Lanka last year, he was playing in the T10 league in UAE.
Not to forget his fitness. The double chin has disappeared. He has transformed himself into one of the fittest players, hardly missing a game due to an injury.
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