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Should Afghanistan be worried about Rashid Khan?

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Roar Rookie
7th May, 2019
3

No Afghanistan fans were calling for such a drastic change ahead of a tournament as big as the World Cup, but the selectors opted to install a new captain, handing the duties to Gulbadin Naib.

But the bigger worry for Afghanistan is the decline in form of Rashid Khan.

The leggie’s meteoric rise as a trump card for his nation was not only attributed to his ability to bamboozle batsmen, but also his electrifying presence in the field and the capacity to set the stage ablaze with the bat as well.

From down under to the desert, from the beaches of the Caribbean to the subcontinent, the 20-year old has conquered it all in the miniature format of the game through franchise cricket.

It was only justified that the most indispensable member of the team was elevated to the Afghanistan vice-captaincy.

But has Rashid the mystery bowler become predictable?

Rashid Khan

(Photo by Mark Brake – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images )

On Saturday, another struggling star came good against Hyderabad in the IPL: Shimron Hetmyer.

The West Indian lit up the Chinnaswamy Stadium with slog sweep after slog sweep against Khan – a sight rarely seen before.

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When turn was nowhere to be seen, the bounce was his ally. But by over-doing the googly, the leg-spinner had become far too predictable.

While his form hasn’t dipped to an absolute low, it is not the Rashid Khan that batsmen feared to face.

Has this enigma been decoded?

He may not have been completely figured out, but some batsmen have learned how to play him with little trouble.

The decks in England are flat and spinners will be licking their lips as the tournament progresses and pitches dry out.

Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Imran Tahir, Nathan Lyon, and Rashid Khan could make a huge difference.

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It goes to show how Khan’s venomous leg spin can help Afghanistan take huge strides.

Khan carries the expectation of a nation. His form is synonymous with the team’s.

If beating sides like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh then challenging India and Pakistan, Afghanistan is expected to tie Australia in a deadlock at Bristol when they face them in their opening game at the World Cup.

For all that the Afghan team have achieved in the past year, playing with freedom will also form an integral part of their game play.

In one of the tightest ever World Cup tournaments, it will be interesting to see how the emerging cricket nation copes with the pressure.