Titans’ Rashid Khan making it a habit of proving his critics wrong

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Gujarat Titans bowler Rashid Khan has made it a habit of proving his critics wrong by giving sterling performance, time and again. The 23-year-old Afghanistan cricketer was at the receiving end in IPL 2022 when he went wicket-less in just a couple of games, with experts saying that he had lost his winning touch, though he contributed handsomely with the bat on those occasions.

Against Mumabi Indians, the spinner came into his own, hitting back at his critics by taking two wickets for 24 runs in his four overs — the best bowling figures for Gujarat Titans in the game against the five-time champions at the Brabourne Stadium on May 6.

On Tuesday, against Lucknow Super Giants, Rashid was at his devastating best, snaring four wickets for just 24 runs as Gujarat Titans secured a playoffs berth with two games to spare.

“I think those couple of games which didn’t go well, it was all about my line and length,” said Rashid after the magical spell against LSG. “That was something I was missing in those games. The kind of pace I bowl and action I have, I cannot afford to lose my line and length and that was something I missed in two or three games. It was all about focusing on hitting the right area.”

With a bit of assistance from the wicket, and the bounce he got on Tuesday, Rashid turned the game on its head as the Titans managed to defend an easily gettable score of 144, restricting their opponents to just 82 runs for a 62-run win.

“The wicket was helping and there was bounce and turn but overall it was just about my length. I have to bowl the right area, right length, and I will be able to pick wickets and make the run rate go higher,” said Rashid.

Rashid’s utility for Gujarat Titans has never been in question. He can bowl amazing spells and can whack the ball at strike rates of 200 or beyond. Gujarat might have lost their way on a couple of occasions — like the game against Mumbai Indians — but the fact that he has helped pull off amazing chases earlier makes him one of the best all-rounders in IPL 2022.

While people thought Rashid had suddenly become ineffective, one look at his economy rate showed that he was busy choking rival batters and stemming the flow of runs, if not taking wickets. On Tuesday night, he took advantage of the platform provided by the pacers in the powerplay overs to completely demolish the opposition later on.

They (pacers) have given us a platform (in the powerplay). (Mohd) Shami the way he bowled, Yash (Dayal), Hardik (Pandya) and (Alzarri) Joseph, I think the way they bowled in the powerplay, they gave us a kind of platform where we can come and put the pressure up and up,” said Rashid.

He conceded that defending 144 was always going to be tough but with the seamers making early breakthroughs, the task to restrict the opponents was made easy.

“In a score like 140-145, you always need to have a good Powerplay and that was something the seamers gave us today. This is a very crucial part of the competition. The mistakes that we made in the games, whether we lost or won, it’s all about the process. We have to keep the same process. We keep getting better day by day and match by match. It’s not just about the result.

“If we keep learning and doing good things more and more, we have now qualified but the focus is on playing good cricket and enjoying the cricket. That is something we as a team will do and take it one day at a time. (Which wicket he enjoyed most) The wicket I got Jason Holder, that was a very crucial wicket at that time. We knew he’s someone who can take the game away. So his wicket is something, I had planned to bowl that leggie from middle stump and I was expecting it to go to slip but leg before was something. That wicket I enjoyed a lot,” he added.

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