IPL 2017 February 20, 2017

Really surprised, really happy - Rashid

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'Afghanistan players weren't bought for emotion'

Rashid Khan was at opposite ends of the cricketing spectrum - and then somewhere in-between - as the IPL auction played out this morning. Physically, he was in Harare with not much to do on a rest day between ODIs against Zimbabwe. Mentally, he was in Bangalore: he was one of the five Afghanistan players listed in the IPL 2017 auction and he had doubts about whether he would attract any bids. Emotionally, he was at home in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, where he last saw his parents and six brothers three months ago, and where all eyes were on India.

"My parents woke up early to watch the auction. I was still sleeping when they called me and told me to get up and watch because I was coming up," Rashid told ESPNcricinfo. "So I started to also watch it from here in Zimbabwe and I was really surprised, really happy and really excited when I saw what was happening. I couldn't believe it actually, it happened very quickly."

After an eager back-and-forth between Mumbai Indians and defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rashid was bought for INR 4 crore (USD 595,000 approx) by Sunrisers, who also acquired his team-mate Mohammad Nabi. The pair will join Kane Williamson, David Warner and Mustafizur Rahman, among others, in the franchise squad and for Rashid, it's undoubtedly the biggest deal of his young cricketing career. He is only 18 and has been playing international cricket for less than 18 months and has already landed one of the most lucrative contracts going around.

Rashid decided to enter the IPL auction on the advice of his agency, Insignia Sports, who also brokered his participation in the 2016-17 Bangladesh Premier League last year. He played for Comilla Victorians, in a squad that also included Jason Holder, Marlon Samuels, Ahmed Shehzad and Nuwan Kulasekara, and finished 11th on the overall wicket-takers' list with 13 scalps at 14.92.

He hoped the BPL performance and his recent returns at the Desert T20 Challenge - where he took nine wickets in the tournament at an average of 6.55 - would tempt an IPL team into buying him, despite a wealth of spin talent in India which saw even the world's top-ranked T20 bowler, Imran Tahir, go unsold.

"What makes me different is that I am a bit quicker for a legspinner," Rashid said. "That is something that just came to me naturally, not something that I copied from anyone."

Apart from his speed, Rashid also relishes big occasions. At the Asia Cup last year, he was Afghanistan's highest wicket-taker and the second-highest wicket-taker for his team at the World T20 after Nabi. His performances have been so standout he has squeezed long-term frontliner Samiullah Shenwari out of the starting XI.

Rashid admitted he enjoys tough situations. "I love pressure. Mentally, I get myself ready for pressure. That's how I like to play," he said. "Maybe it's because I grew up playing with my brothers all the time and five of them are older than me but I also think it's the experience of playing a lot of cricket in a short space of time."

Since October 2015, Rashid has played in six ODI series and six T20 series, as Afghanistan seek to make themselves more visible on the global stage. Rashid and Nabi's IPL signings will aid that cause immeasurably.

Having been chosen over some Bangladesh and Sri Lanka stars, the pair's selection is the biggest indication of the strides Afghanistan are making, and Rashid hopes it does not stop here.

"Our main target is to play Test cricket and all the guys are working very hard to get there," he said. "If we can get there, you can't imagine how good it would feel."

For now, he is happy to concentrate on the shortest format. "In short formats, the more you enjoy it, the better you will do, and I am enjoying it a lot."

Understandably, Rashid has not made any plans for his new income just yet. He will only see his family after the tournament - Afghanistan travel from Zimbabwe to Greater Noida in Delhi for their series against Ireland and then it will be time for the IPL - and he expects there will be a clamour in his hometown to share in his glory. "Whenever I go home they have a celebration for me so I'm sure this time, they will do it as well."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricfan8683608093 on March 31, 2017, 17:59 GMT

    He is world's top bowler now with some magic deliveries he owns. will Rock in ipl

  • SnGomes on February 22, 2017, 15:11 GMT

    Had a gut feeling that Imran Tahir actually would not be too successful if he was selected in the ipl. Indian domestic cricketers play leg spin pretty well, Even local leg spinners do not find it easy. Rashid also a leg spinner but different to Tahir and the point he made about being QUICKER than others actually is indeed an advantage for him.

  • cricfan42265610 on February 22, 2017, 4:29 GMT

    Hoping Rashid gets a game. The experience will be invaluable!

  • cricfan25443107 on February 21, 2017, 22:30 GMT

    Though I'm a huge fan of Hydrabad, but I'm so scared about this years team. Why did you pick Rashid khan? Who is he? Most of his wickets are against associate team. Don't forget in IPL there would be players like Virat Kohli, Sures Raina, Rohit Sharma, Cris Gayle, AB, Mcculam and many other super batsmen. If you think Rashid khan is better choice than Imran Tahir and some other Indian spinners, than I think your team management is quite nonsense. Hydrabad team could buy much better spinners by the half amount as Rashid Khan is been bought: D

  • dryinwicket on February 21, 2017, 21:20 GMT

    I´m bored with sportmen´s trite comments about pressure and how they love it. However, I wish the lad success and think this is a great story.

  • Cpt.Meanster on February 21, 2017, 20:33 GMT

    He looks older than 18. My 18 yr old nephew resembles a child compared to Rashid. Was he born in a leap year ? I would say he's at least 32.

  • i_love_indian_team on February 21, 2017, 20:14 GMT

    Happy to see an young Afgani Rashid and my favorite player Nabi got selected. Congratulations and love from India!

  • khanagewot on February 21, 2017, 18:01 GMT

    He looks at least 35 not 18

  • cricfan36508710 on February 21, 2017, 15:08 GMT

    happy to see good things happening to Afghan Cricket Team. Many congratulations to the Rashid Khan and wish him all the best for the tournament. Now IPL, please get over this political drama and stop mixing politics with sports. We Pakistani Fans would love to see our stars participate in the IPL so we can enjoy it just like any other fan. I refuse to watch IPL until it distance itself from the indo-pak politics. We the cricket lovers would love to see our stars playing with other stars. Good Luck Afghanistan Cricket, very exited to have another Asian team stepping up the game.

  • Winners-2011 on February 21, 2017, 13:02 GMT

    I share the surprise with some of you guys on omission of people like Tahir. But, I don't see any political reasons etc. on this issue. IPL team managements are very cut-throat and they go purely by their needs -- team composition, no of foreign players limitation etc. Remember, current Indian players like Ishant Sharma, Cheteswar Pujara etc. have not been picked up by any team. When it comes to bowlers, pure bowlers find it a bit difficult - bowlers who can hit long (like many West Indian bowlers) have better chances. Fee paid to a particular player also dependent on many factors like when their turn has come up for auction etc.

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