It is the first World Cup in his career and this has surely been quite a learning curve for ace Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan. The 20-year-old went to the tournament as a potential player of the series but the tournament has turned out be a tough test for both the youngster and his team. While Rashid has managed to pick just three wickets in five games so far (he didn’t bowl in one game), Afghans haven’t yet managed to win a match and are left to play for pride.
Rashid’s worst day in career came on Tuesday when he was belted for 110 runs in nine overs by the England batsman at Old Trafford. The bowler, who otherwise has an economy rate of around 4, conceded 11 sixes in that game and seven of them had come from England captain Eoin Morgan. Rashid was booed for his show though there were also fans who stood by him.
Afghanistan’s added woes to their misery because of off-field controversies as well. Rashid and Mohammad Nabi had expressed their displeasure when the country’s board decided to sack the long-time captain Asghar Afghan and replace him with Gulbadin Naib. Many have attributed the team’s poor performance on the field to the sudden change at the helm which has reportedly created differences in the team.
When Rashid was asked whether he had a strained relationship with Naib for expressing displeasure over the change of guard, he was quoted as saying by agencies: “Neither do I play for Gulbadin nor for the cricket board (ACB) but for Afghanistan.” Well, one can well imagine it from the intensity of the response.
Gulbadin has my 100 per cent support
Conspiracy theories are making rounds after Afghanistan lost five games in a row at the World Cup and that included Rashid’s relationship with Naib, something that many suspects has affected the ace spinner’s performance. His 110 in nine overs now stand as the worst bowling figure in the history of the World Cup, taking the crown off former New Zealand bowler Martin Snedden who had conceded 105 off 12 in the 1983 edition, also against England.
“I think there is no problem in my relationship with Gulbadin. I support him as much as I did when Asghar was the captain. If I supported Asghar 50 per cent on the field, Gulbadin has my 100 per cent support,” quoted Rashid Khan.
He also said that the matter was blown out of proportion by the media. He said some of them are playing together for 15-16 years and if nothing bad has happened between them for more than a decade, then things won’t change in a day or two. Afghanistan will take on India in their next match in Southampton on Saturday.