Afghanistan leg-spinner, Rashid Khan, has been quite phenomenal in the recent past, and it has been his steady rise which has also helped the national team scale great heights in the last few years.

Rashid has been a global hero in the past year or so. Rashid was quite brilliant in the Indian Premier League and bamboozled experienced batters with his variations. He bagged 21 wickets in the tournament for the Sunrisers Hyderabad finishing, as the highest wicket-taker for the eventual runners-up along with Siddharth Kaul.

The 19-year old was at his imperious best during the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh. It was his tally of eight wickets which was instrumental in helping Afghanistan win the series by a 3-0 margin. There is no doubt about the fact that he is the undisputed No 1 bowler in the world, especially in the shortest format.

However, despite his heroics, Rashid had to toil very hard to get selected in the team around three years ago. Afghanistan CEO, Shafiq Stanikzai revealed how he had to pester with the national captain Asghar Stanikzai to get Rashid into the senior national team. During an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Shafiq Stanikzai revealed many details of the globalisation of the game in the country.

He was asked that how did Rashid developed into a great spinner and what advice would he give to the youngster.

“Well, a phenomenal story to be honest. The Day one I saw him – chief selector Dawlat Khan who was also his coach as well – I was in the office, and he called me and said: “come out, I want to show you something”. So I went out of my office, and I watched a game.”

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. Credits: Getty Images.

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“It was an under-19 game; they were playing amongst each other, it was a kind of a trial game. So I asked the chief selector, “what do you want to show me?” so he told, “look around sir, and you will find out”.

“Suddenly I saw Rashid Khan, and he was bowling, and I asked “Dawlat, am I here just to see this?” and he said “Yes”. And we saw him, and to be honest, the Day one I saw him, I fell in love with him. He joined Afganistan in the under-19 team, and then I had to struggle to convince Asghar Stanikzai to put him in the national squad while we were touring Zimbabwe in 2015.”

Shafiq then revealed how he persisted with Asghar Stanikzai to get Rashid at least in the T20I squad if not ODI’s. The leggie went on to make his ODI debut pretty soon, and since then there has been no looking back.

“So, then we convinced Asghar to make him part of the T20 squad – not the ODI squad – we went to Zimbabwe, we lost the first game very badly to Zimbabwe. I got a call from the chief selector from Zimbabwe who was touring with the squad and also Asghar that we wanted Rashid, so, without giving a second thought, we put him in the plane; he went to Zimbabwe, and since then, he never looked back.

And I was – the Day one I saw him in the national side, I tweeted and I also posted in my social media as well, that “now the world will have number1 ranked bowler”, and that is Rashid Khan.

So, Rashid Khan is a story of Afghanistan cricket, which adds charm and charisma to Afghanistan Cricket, and that’s superb; and we are really proud that we are generating and we are producing such talents like Rashid, Mujeeb, Zahir Khan, and some of the other youngsters that the world will be surprised with, Insha Allah, in the future. That’s the system that we are running, and the talent that is coming from the grassroots – that is amazing,” Shafiz Stanikzai added.

Asghar Stanikzai Virat Kohli
Asghar Stanikzai says Virat Kohli’s absence won’t make a difference. Image Courtesy: Getty Images

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