Sunrisers Hyderabad's (SRH) renowned spinner, Rashid Khan, said his fantastic strike-rate in T20 cricket is only a byproduct of shrewd focus on bowling as economically as possible, making batsmen take risks against the turning ball.
Since making his debut in the Indian Premier League (IPL) back in 2018, the Afghanistan wrist-spinner has taken 55 wickets in 46 innings while going at an economy rate of just 6.55.
The success mantra that he applies while also playing for his country and in other leagues in the world to great effect, Rashid says, is about allowing the batsmen no rhythm and flow through their innings being excellent with his accuracy.
With time, teams have begun playing out Rashid and target other bowlers. But the 22-year-old says given T20 is such a short game, batsmen still have to take the risk to score runs, even if it is from the other end.
“My focus is always bowling economically well for the team. When I bowl economically it helps the bowlers on the other end to take wickets," said Rashid during a media interaction before his team's opening game of IPL 2020 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Monday (September 21).
“I concentrate on bowling dot balls and putting pressure on the batsman so he can take risks. My focus is the team’s requirement, what helps the team is important to me."
Apart from accuracy, Rashid also boasts of great variations. "I have 4-5 grips. I bowl them according to the wicket based on the reaction of the wicket. Those five grips help me to bowl differently as each one pitches differently."
“I keep mixing it up. I have those varieties and I need to use them well. I use my fingers and shoulders a lot to generate the pace."
These days, Rashid is working on one other variation, but says he won't be using it in this tournament. "I’m working hard on my new delivery but unless I play in the longer format, I can’t improve that delivery. But I’m trying to perfect it in the nets as it is tough to bowl in shorter format. I just need to be smart and be more consistent. That is something more which will help me to take wickets."
Excited to kickstart the campaign with Sunrisers in Dubai, Rashid is especially looking forward to the challenge of bowling to the mighty Virat Kohli.
“IPL is a different league (compared to CPL), different pressure. Playing against big names like Kohli and others is a big challenge. No doubt he (Kohli) is one of the best players in the world and you have to have the best ball for him, there is no excuse to ball bad," he said. "He’ll be back in the field after a long break, let’s see what his reaction is, how he performs."
In traditionally spin-friendly conditions, Rashid knows he'll be doubly important for Sunrisers once again.
"Spinners will be key in this competition as it goes on, wickets might get better for the spinners as the tournament progresses, the grounds are bigger as well and that helps as a spinner. Sharjah is a small ground but the wicket would be good for the spinners," he said.
Besides the on-field challenge, there is also the off-field task of living under strict guidelines in bio-secure bubbles amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Rashid, who has moved from one such bubble in CPL 2020 to another, says it's quite mentally tough.
“It’s something new a quite tough but at the same time it’s a requirement. Being in the CPL was the toughest time for me, staying in the bubble, not going out."
“At the same time you have to be strong mentally the stronger you are the better you will adjust. We need to keep our self fresh and fine. Toughest challenge will be how we keep ourself mentally fit."
(Inputs from PTI)