IPL 2022: I can’t afford loose balls against Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, says Rashid Khan | Cricket News

MUMBAI: For any spinner in world cricket, right now one of the biggest challenges in the game is bowling to India’s two young guns: the explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and the dashing Shreyas Iyer.
Dancing down the track, Pant, who recently smashed the fastest Test fifty (off 28 balls against Sri Lanka) by an Indian batsman, sends the ball soaring over the ropes, making a mockery of the spinners. Iyer hit 92 and 67 in the same game, played on a turner.
Over the years, Afghanistan’s star leg-spinner Rashid Khan, now an ace in the pack with the Gujarat Titans, has enjoyed many tough battles with Pant and Iyer in the IPL.
Going into IPL 2022, the classy leggie reveals that for a spinner, the key to bowling to Pant and Iyer, without being punished, is to avoid giving loose balls.
“Pant has his strong zones and weak points, and I know where I should be bowling. Against batsmen like Pant and Shreyas Iyer, you can’t offer too many loose balls. As soon as you bowl those deliveries to them, it’s pretty easy for them, because they have that confidence. The power they have and the belief in their shots is what allows them that extra energy to clear the boundary easily,” Rashid told TOI.
“So for such batsmen, I always have it in my mind that, ‘no mistake, no loose balls to them’. Just hit the right area. Whatever I’m bowling, make sure it’s the best enough, whether it’s a wrong one or a flipper. My line and length should be good,” he said.
Rashid wants the bigger cricketing nations to play more Tests against Afghanistan.
“We want to play more Tests against big teams, even if it’s two or three in a year. That will be a big boost for all our youngsters, and there’ll be lots of things for everyone to learn for them, and get better. In all the formats – Tests will be a huge plus – the more we play against the big teams, the better we’ll become,” he said.
Rashid recalled a rare “one-on-one session” he enjoyed with Australia’s leg spin legend Shane Warne, who passed away recently, during the Australia versus New Zealand Boxing Day Test at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2019. Rashid has sought out Warne with an aim to learn the nuances of Test bowling.
Recalling that memorable day in his life, Rashid said, “I had a great time with him. It was a huge honour for me that he called me to the MCG for a 15-minute session during the lunch break. I was so lucky to have that session. I learnt so many things. We had a discussion about how I could be more effective in Tests. He discussed all those key points about how your mindset, skills and preparation should be. He told me, ‘You don’t need to change your speed, action. That’s something unique you have. You just need to be consistent. Sometimes, you might get a wicket, sometimes for 30 to 40 overs, you might not get a wicket, but that’s the time you’ll be tested mentally and physically, if you’re fit enough for that (challenge). So you’ve to be fit enough for those big games.'”
Rashid had desired that in some time in future, he would play under ‘head coach Shane Warne,’ but sadly, his dream didn’t come true. “I was really looking forward to having him as the coach, head coach, and to play with him, spend some more time with him. That was a dream which we discussed at that time. He said hopefully we’ll be together in ‘The Hundred’ in UK, and then we’ll have enough time to discuss Test cricket,” he rues.
While Warne was one of his leg spin idols, Rashid was more keen to copy the fastish leg spin style of India’s Anil Kumble and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi. “Anil Kumble and Shahid Afridi were also my idols, favourites. I used to watch them a lot. They inspired me to bowl at that pace. I wanted to bowl as fast as them,” he says.
For someone who’s so young, Rashid already has an unbelievable number of wickets in T20 cricket – 435 in 311 games@17.40, while playing for multiple teams in various T20 leagues around the world. Rashid reveals that the secret to him being so dangerous in T20s is his ability to keep bowling at the stumps all the time.
“As a spinner, you’ll get better results if you ask more questions from the batsmen. By asking questions, I mean that the more you bowl wicket-to-wicket, the better it will be, because if you do that, the batsman becomes double-minded. He would think, ‘if I take a risk, or if I miss the ball, I’ll get out. Whether it’s the leg-spinner, flipper or wrong ‘un, if you keep bowling at the stumps, you become more effective and trouble the batsmen more,” explains Rashid.

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