Wily leg-spinner Rashid Khan is the common factor in all three of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s wins till October 8 in the Indian Premier League. Regardless of how difficult the circumstances are or how strong the opposition is, Rashid calmly ensures an economical spell every time he bowls. His economy rate of 4.84 is the best among all bowlers with four or more wickets in the competition, and he has eight wickets in his kitty after six matches, four behind the leader, Kagiso Rabada. His average — 14.50 — and his strike-rate — 18 — are excellent as well.
Rashid, in one of his press conferences, revealed he likes to keep things simple. He sticks to a stump-to-stump line, mixes the pace of his deliveries and bowls a good length or short of a length most times. He throws in the occasional googly. The batsmen, wary of being flummoxed by his deliveries, choose to play out his spell rather than risk losing their wickets.
Delhi Capitals was the first team to have been undone by his guile. He dismissed three key batsmen: Shreyas Iyer, who couldn’t generate enough strength on his belligerent stroke and holed out to deep extra-cover; Shikhar Dhawan, who was too early on his attempted sweep and edged behind; and Rishabh Pant, who couldn’t get leverage on his paddle-sweep. Thanks to Rashid’s efforts (3 for 14), Sunrisers was able to defend a modest total of 162 and post its first win.
Then Chennai Super Kings was caught in his net; there were as many as 16 dot balls in his spell of four overs (24 deliveries) as the Super Kings failed to chase down 165 despite having avoided a batting collapse. Rashid went wicketless but ensured an economy rate of 3.
After a less impactful outing — by his standards — against Mumbai Indians, Rashid was at it again, taking three wickets for 12 against Kings XI Punjab. It helped his team notch up a 69-run win.
Following that victory, thanks to Rashid, Sunrisers stood at third in the points table despite its struggles with the bat.