Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. Image Credits: Twitter

Rashid Khan insists his mind is occupied by the forthcoming T20I World Cup and not wedding bells as the leg-spin wizard looks to inspire Afghanistan at the Twenty20 global showpiece.

Still only 23 years of age, Rashid Khan is key to his nation’s hopes of a first-world title and a potential triumph that would deliver a rare bout of good news for his home country, especially after the militant group Taliban’s takeover. However, Rashid Khan said that speculation over his private life in the run-up to the tournament, currently underway in Oman and the UAE, will not derail his ambitions.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan (Photo Credit: Twitter/@cricketworldcup)

Rashid Khan Denied He Ever Said He Will Marry If Afghanistan Win Their First- 2021 T20I World Cup

Rashid Khan, who made his Afghanistan debut when he was a teenager- 17, is one of international cricket’s most in-demand players. He has already played 51 T20Is and more than 280 games in the format for franchises around the world.  A lucrative career has seen him ply his trade in England, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, and, of course, the IPL in India, where he has been a regular for Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2017.

He denied he ever said: “I will marry when Afghanistan win a World Cup.”

“Actually, I was so shocked when I heard this because, to be honest, I never made a statement that I will marry once I win the World Cup,” said Rashid, whose family lives in Nangarhar in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

Rashid Khan, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021
Rashid Khan, Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2021[photo: Twitter]

“I just said that in the next few years I have more cricket and three World Cups (the 2021 and 2022 Twenty20 World Cups and the 50-over World Cup in 2023) so my focus will be on cricket rather than on getting married.”

He has 95 wickets in T20 internationals with an average of just 12.63 and in 2020 was voted the ICC’s Cricketer of the Decade in the format. Initially, ACB named Rashid Khan as their captain for the T20 World Cup 2021.

Rashid Khan soon came up with a tweet stating that he will be leaving the captaincy. Post that, ACB announced that Mohammad Nabi will be the captain of the team. Rashid Khan decided to step down from captaincy after the spinner claimed that his “consent” was not obtained before announcing the squad.

Rashid Khan Feels It Will Be A Spinners World Cup

On the low, slow wickets of the Gulf, the spinners will be key contributors, according to the leg-spin wizard. Rashid Khan, who will be playing his second T20 World Cup, said that the spinners are always “effective” on the slow pitches at three venues in the UAE, where the Super 12s, as well as the semi-finals and final, will be played.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan turned in a few memorable match-winning efforts in SRH’s journey to the finals of the 2018 edition. He took 21 wickets and emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in that edition. He has 93 scalps in 76 IPL games averaging a mere 20.55 at an economic rate of 6.33- the lowest economy rate ever in IPL history.

“I think it will be a spinners’ World Cup,” said Rashid.

“The wickets here are mostly very good for spinners, so I think that’s the main reason most of the teams have more spinners in their attack.”

India has packed four slow bowlers in their squad with Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, and Rahul Chahar, while England has Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, and Liam Livingstone. Defending champions, the West Indies have Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh, and Roston Chase. Chris Gayle can also turn his arm over.

Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin AFP

Pakistan can call on Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, and Imad Wasim as frontline spinners. Veterans Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik can also give the ball a tweak. New Zealand has Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, and Todd Astle. Australia, yet to win a T20 World Cup, will look to Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. Rashid Khan is not Afghanistan’s only front-line spinner — there is also Mujeeb Ur Rahman and skipper Mohammad Nabi.

“What I noticed during the Indian Premier League (the conclusion of which was also played in the UAE) was that wickets were good but there was not that much spin,” said Rashid.

“But I think the more we play in this World Cup we might see wickets which are a bit different and the more you play on these tracks it becomes slower and slower and they will be handy for spinners.” Rashid refused to predict any favourites for what is the seventh edition of the World Cup.

“Well it’s T20 and anyone can beat anyone on the day,” said Rashid, who stepped down from the captaincy ahead of the event over not being consulted in squad selection.

“We have a mixture of both experienced and young players and most importantly it’s quite balanced with a few all-rounders which make the side very balanced, especially in T20 when you have more of that all-round option.”

Afghanistan is placed in Group 2 of the World Cup with India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and two qualifiers in the Super 12 stage, which begins on Saturday.