SRH’s trump-card Rashid Khan, who once again starred for the side on Thursday with an exquisite spell, revealed that he planned to keep Nicholas Pooran quiet by building pressure on the southpaw. The plan worked like a charm as after four straight dots, Rashid dismissed Pooran in the 15th over.
After back-to-back underwhelming returns in the first two matches of the season, questions were raised over Rashid Khan’s mystery and potency, but the leg-spinner, with the ball in the last four games, has exactly shown why he’s considered to be one of the greatest of all time, already. After finishing with spells of 3/14, 0/12 and 1/22 in his third, fourth and fifth games of the season, Rashid, on Thursday versus KXIP, bowled yet another immaculate spell - 3/12 including a maiden - to bowl his side to their third win of the season.
Rashid, as always, strangled the KXIP batsmen in his spell, but he also delivered the telling blow in the 15th over of the chase, in the form of Nicholas Pooran. Batting on 77 off 32 at the start of over 15, Pooran threatened to single-handedly dismantle the SRH attack, but his stay at the crease was ended by the Afghan leggie, who got the southpaw caught at backward point.
Speaking post match, the 22-year-old revealed that he wanted to create pressure on Pooran by bowling dots. The plan worked like a charm as after playing four dots, the West Indian succumbed to pressure in the fifth ball of the over.
“It was a crucial over, my last over - Nicholas Pooran was in the mood as well and he was going after the bowlers. I just tried my best to bowl dot balls. For me, personally, more the dot balls I bowl, better the results will be. So that’s what happened - I bowled four dot balls and he tried to hit the fifth ball too hard for a single, which resulted in a wicket. In these wickets, if you bowl in the right lengths and the right areas, you will definitely get the right results,” Rashid said in the press conference post the game.
It was important for Rashid to up his game on Thursday, as the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar meant that he was pretty much the only senior bowler in the side. Two days prior to the KXIP fixture, SRH confirmed that Bhuvi would miss the rest of the season owing to an injury he picked up in the CSK game and the news, unsurprisingly, shattered Sunrisers’ hearts.
Reflecting on the talisman’s absence, Rashid admitted that losing Bhuvi was a huge blow to the side, but claimed that SRH have the strength to cope in the right-armer’s absence and stated that he was impressed by how the other young pacers in the side stepped up their game.
“Losing Bhuvi is a big loss for us, he has been doing so well for the team - not only with the new ball but at the death as well. His experience was helping us a lot and as a senior bowler, he was always with us and discussing the wicket as well.
“A big loss for us, but we have (other) guys who are in great form. Khaleel, Natarajan and Sandeep are there and they are taking responsibility, too. I think it’s very important - once you get an opportunity, you just need to go there and express yourself. So far the bowling unit has been doing well and quite happy with the result as well,” said the 22-year-old.
The SRH players wore black armbands on Thursday, and they did the same to pay homage to a close friend of Rashid Khan, Afghan cricketer Najeeb Tarakai, who lost his life earlier this week in a tragic accident. An emotional Rashid revealed that he was left shocked by the news of Tarakai’s passing.
“He (Najeeb Tarakai) was a good friend, human being and we lost him two days ago in an accident, it is something shocking (SRH players wore black arm-bands today in his honour).”