He is ranked No.3 in the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings. He was supposed to be the star bowler of the ICC World Cup 2019 in England. He had high numbers to back him. He is young, he is fearless, and the hopes of his country were riding on his 20-year-old shoulders. Rashid Khan, the superstar leg-spinner from Afghanistan, was expected to take the World Cup by storm and stamp his name in the world.
Things, however, haven’t gone the way he wanted to. Rashid Khan’s performance in the World Cup 2019 so far has been nothing short of disastrous, and he has been one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament.
After being hammered for 102-0 in his nine overs against England at Old Trafford, Rashid Khan became the first spinner in ODI history to concede more than 100 runs in a One-Day game. His figures were also the 2nd worst in ODI history and the joint worst in World Cup history. Rashid was spanked for 11 sixes in his nine overs, and one wonders how bad his figures would have been had he completed his quota of 10 overs.
So far, Rashid has had a mediocre tournament, taking only three wickets in 5 matches at a stunningly horrible average of 74.66. His best performance has been his spell of 2-17 against Sri Lanka at Cardiff. Barring that performance, Rashid has been weak. He has not been able to get his lengths right in the English conditions and batsmen are either milking him for singles or latching on to his short deliveries.
This is not expected from someone who is ranked the No.3 bowler in the world. What’s more, is that Rashid was one of the prime reasons why Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup 2019 in the first place. His performance in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last year was terrific – 14 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 21.35 and an economy of 4.60.
Moreover, he had picked up 48 wickets in 20 ODIs in 2018 after having taken 43 wickets in just 16 ODIs in 2017. Rashid is a wicket-taking bowler. And in the T20 format, especially, he has shown that he can be a real game-changer with his miserly overs and wicket-taking abilities.
So where did things go wrong for Rashid Khan in World Cup 2019?
One has to remember that Rashid is playing his first ODI World Cup and is still only 20 years of age. Also, he had never played an ODI in England before this tournament. To adjust and acclimatize to these conditions for such a young spinner would take some time.
Another critical factor is that out of his 64 ODIs, Rashid has played 23 matches against Ireland, 18 against Zimbabwe, five against West Indies and five against Bangladesh. His experience against stronger teams with better batsmen is still very inadequate. Hence, it was perhaps a little unfair to expect the world out of him so soon.
Rashid still has a few games to go in the tournament and may again make an impact. But given the way he has gone so far, that seems rather unlikely. This World Cup 2019, though, would have been a learning experience for Rashid Khan. He is still only 20 years of age and has a long way to go. One expects that the talented leg-spinner would have learned vital lessons from playing in this tournament and would come out a much-improved bowler in the days to come.