The Rashid Khan Factor: IPL 2022

Rashid Khan helps build pressure to allow other bowlers to thrive.

  • admin | June 2, 2022 | 10:50 am

Rashid Khan is already one of the all-time T20 greats, constantly jumping from one franchise tournament to another. He has taken part in nearly every tournament available, is a highly sought name in the franchise circuit, but interestingly, before last Sunday, Rashid Khan never had a proper trophy in Franchise Cricket.

He was a part of the winning teams in franchise tournaments at UAE and Afghanistan, but the quality in those tournaments is far from what we expected, given the best players don’t take part in those leagues as they would in the Big Bash, PSL CPL or IPL.

Winning a tournament takes a lot of effort and needs more than one player doing well. In the past, teams have been dependent on Rashid Khan with the ball, and that has played a factor in him not making it far enough to get a trophy. He is one of those players teams don’t mind spending extra on, but this may lead to them not having enough for other quality players.

With the Gujarat Titans though, Rashid Khan found balance. He was a part of a quality and consistent bowling line-up, who could make use of his ability. Previously, teams would look to play out Rashid Khan’s four overs and attack the other bowlers. This option made him bowl his overs economically but Rashid Khan struggled to pick up wickets as batters were defensive against him.

He is not a common name on the top of the wicket-takers but leads the economy charts. His lack of wickets though is what has kept him out of sides in the past, with teams playing him out, but the Gujarat Titans have managed to find a way around his ability to bowl economically.

With batters avoiding attacks on him, Rashid Khan bowls his overs at crucial junctures, like in the Finals, where he bowled in the final over of the powerplay and when Rajasthan were in search of quick runs in the middle-overs. With some economical overs, Rashid Khan completely choked the Rajasthan Royals as they failed to attack him, and this allowed Hardik Pandya, and other quality bowlers to take wickets as the Rajasthan Royals had to attack other bowlers, who themselves are not short of skill.

With no bowlers in the Gujarat line-up to exploit, batters have struggled to score big, especially after playing out Rashid Khan’s four overs without any aggressive strokes. His role as a momentum breaker was used well in the playoffs.

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In both games, Rashid Khan only conceded one boundary across eight overs. The boundary as well was off a misfield, and there was no attacking shots against him through the eight overs. His approach is similar to another T20 great, Sunil Narine. Sunil Narine too started off as a wicket-taker but then batters decided to play him out cautiously, and attack the other bowlers.

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While both bowlers are very economical and feared due to their ability to pick up wickets in clumps, they still do tend to go for runs and are forced to make adjustments. This season, Abhishek Sharma was one player who got the better of him, and in the past Ruturaj Gaikwad has also found Khan easier to maneuver. On various occasions though, Rashid has done well to adjust and find his rhythm again to plug the runs and threaten the wickets column.

This season, Rashid Khan doubled up as a crucial part of another aspect in the game. In champion teams, the middle order is a very important part of the side. A strong middle-order often creates the illusion that a team has powerful hitters constantly incoming. With Rashid Khan striking well at number seven, Gujarat had a brilliant group of players in the middle-order, which didn’t seem the case after the auction.

Not being considered a wicket-taker at one stage though, Rashid Khan has answered his critics well. He has received his first IPL Title, and with a long career ahead, this could be the first of many T20 Titles to come.