In 12th Khiladi’s exclusive interview with Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan spinner disclosed the names of the Indian cricketers who he believes play him best. Speaking to Saarthak Lal, Rashid named Virat Kohli to be a senior Indian player who has done well against him, and Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan as the two youngsters who combat his wrist-spin effectively. He also mentioned Hardik Pandya among the 3 most challenging batters he has bowled to, alongside Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.
The 23-year-old has definitely had some exciting battles against the two West Indian giants in T20s. While he has dismissed Russell 3 times in the 31 balls that he has bowled to him, the Jamaican big-hitter has been able to take him for 49 runs at a strike rate of 158.06 in them, including 5 sixes.
As far as Gayle is concerned, Rashid opened up about how he tamed him after being taken for 42 runs in 16 balls, with 6 monstrous sixes, against him in an IPL match in 2018, in our interview as well. He highlighted how he began succeeding against Gayle once he started bowling lengths and areas that he backs himself to usually nail rather than feeding him ones that the Universe Boss prefers. And it shows in his record, for after that encounter in 2018, the Gujarat Titans vice captain has dismissed Gayle 4 times in 25 balls, conceding only 29 runs.
Ishan Kishan too has countered Rashid’s wily wrist-spin rather constructively, with 64 runs at a strike rate of 125.5, including 3 fours and 4 sixes and no dismissals, against him. However, it was interesting to hear him mention Kohli, Gill, and Hardik in this list, for they have each been dismissed by the spinner at least 1 time and strike at less than 90 against him in T20s.
The fact that Rashid believes that these 3 play him well despite these numbers simply goes on to demonstrate how remarkable a bowler he is, with his superlative ability to contain even batters that he himself thinks have been able to play him decently.
This is not the first time Rashid has praised Kohli. In June 2021, he had commended the ex-India and RCB captain’s grit and focus, adding that he is able to counter bowling of even the greatest quality owing to his unshakable self-belief. In our interview, he also mentioned Kohli as 1 of the 3 batters he would cherish having in his dream hat-trick. Rashid clearly enjoys the challenge of bowling to Kohli, and with GT’s encounter with RCB only 6 days away, he may already be prepared with his masterplan to spin a web around him.
On the other hand, though, Gill and Hardik would surely be happy to be sharing a dressing room with King of Spin, especially because they do not need to face Rashid anywhere outside the nets this season.