Tuesday Feb 16, 2021
KARACHI: Rashid Khan – the ICC T20 player of the decade – is all set for his maiden PSL campaign with Lahore Qalandars this year.
The 22-year-old bowler arrived in Karachi on Monday to join Lahore Qalandars ahead of the PSL-6 and shared his thoughts on the league, future of Afghanistan Cricket, Babar Azam, and being awarded as the best player of the decade in an exclusive interview with Geo News.
The leggie from Afghanistan said that he is looking forward to his first stint in the PSL and has set his eyes on helping his side Lahore Qalandars to do well in the tournament.
“Having players like Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shaheen Shah Afridi, Qalandars look a very strong squad. We will enter the ground with a positive mindset to give our best and provide quality entertainment to our fans,” he said.
“I’ve received a lot of love from Qalandars’ fans since I was picked by them in the draft. I am so excited to be here. I will try to produce results that LQ fans want from me. I hope once this COVID-19 scenario is over so that I can get a chance to meet the fans as well,” the Afghanistan cricketer remarked.
Terming PSL among the top three leagues along with the IPL and the Big Bash League, Rashid said that he has always followed the PSL and has heard a lot about the league from his friends.
Records suggest that the league has always given an edge to spinners but regardless of conditions available in Pakistan my main goal is to do well for my side, he noted.
“I know there are top batsmen playing the league but I have an advantage that I’ve experience of bowling against them at various levels and I know their weaknesses and strengths. So, I will try to utilise that experience when I bowl against them in the upcoming edition,” he added.
“But, I can’t be complacent against anyone in the T20 format. My goal in PSL is to bowl as economically as possible. I am not eyeing any personal glory and stats and my target is to do what my team wants me to do. I know if I bowl with a good economy, the wickets will automatically come my way," Rashid aimed.
He also praised the Lahore Qalandars' players development program saying that when a youngster gets the opportunity to share a dressing room with top players of the world, he gets to learn a lot, realises about what it takes to be there.
“These leagues are very beneficial for youngsters, Pakistan has amazing talent and the PSL is an opportunity for them to grow. I would suggest all the youngsters in the league to value this precious time and learn whatever they can while sharing the dressing room with top cricketers,” the Afghanistan cricketer advised the emerging cricket talent of Pakistan.
Revealing that he followed Pakistan vs South Africa T20 series closely, he wished to get similar wickets when he’ll be there for the PSL games in the second week of March.
He also praised Pakistan’s debutant Zahid Mehmood for showing quality bowling. “I was following the T20 series and I saw wicket was getting good turn when Tabraiz or Usman Qadir were bowling. There can’t be anything better than getting a similar wicket but whatever the conditions would be there, I will try to give my best without thinking too much about the conditions,” he added.
Responding to a question, the top-ranked ICC T20I bowler praised Babar Azam and named him among the top 5 batsmen of the world. Rashid said that he is looking forward to the challenge of bowling against Babar in the Pakistan Super League.
“The way Babar has played in the last few years is amazing. He has been performing in all types of conditions. So, he is right there – among top five batsmen – with likes of Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson, and Steve Smith,” Rashid lauded the Pakistani team captain.
“He is sort of a player who is suitable for all formats and it is always good to bowl against such top quality batsman. I look forward to bowl against him and I know that I will have to be 200% focused while bowling against him because of one mistake against Babar and you will be punished hard by him,” the top T20I bowler said about Pakistani batsman.
Rashid revealed that he has some very good friends in the Pakistan Cricket team’s dugout and he is looking forward to spending quality time with his friends in Pakistan like Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Tanvir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Imad Wasim.
Sharing about the moment when he was awarded the ICC T20I player of the decade, Rashid said that it was "special and unbelievable" for him.
He also credit playing various cricket leagues around the world for his professional growth as a cricketer.
“I still can’t believe that I have become ICC player of the decade. It was like a dream, it was very special for someone coming from Afghanistan and hasn’t played for that long. Being in team of the decade was already great for me, being the player of decade was something very very special,” Rashid said.
“I consider myself very fortunate that I got the opportunity to play in various cricket leagues around the world. It provided me opportunity to play against top level cricketers and allowed me to play in opposing conditions that made me mentally strong and when you’re mentally strong then nothing can harm you,” he said.
Rashid opined that to grow as a top team, Afghanistan team needs to play more matches against top teams. He also hoped to play Test series against Pakistan.
“We have very good talent back in Afghanistan and players are doing good enough. We have become a good contender in T20I cricket but we need to improve in longer format of the game and for that we need to play against quality opposition,” Rashid said.
“When you play against quality teams, you get to learn a lot by knowing your weaknesses. You don’t get this opportunity if you continue to play against same teams again and again. If Afghanistan gets the opportunity to play tests and ODIs against top teams, it will automatically help them learn and improve our game,” said Rashid who has played 48 T20Is and 74 ODIs for Afghanistan.
Rashid also shared his thoughts on debate about teams’ complaining conditions for poor show in away series and said that one must stop blaming conditions and prepare well for all type of conditions.
He said that Virat Kohli is regarded as top player because he performs at all sort of conditions without making any excuses.
“If you say that you can’t perform if condition isn’t friendly then you have nothing to offer, it is only the condition that is doing something for you. I think one should think about how to be good enough instead of thinking about conditions.
I enjoy performing in all type of conditions because you’re only known as good player when you do well in difficult conditions. I would say that keep pitch and conditions out of your mind and just stay focused on your goal,” Rashid said.
Rashid added that with so much technology available, it is not difficult for a team to arrange any sort of condition at their home to prepare themselves for any sort of condition they anticipate in away series.