Rashid Khan insists his mind is consumed by the World Cup and not wedding bells as the leg-spin specialist aims to inspire Afghanistan at the Twenty20 global event.
Rashid, who is still only 23, is crucial to his country’s prospects of winning its first global title and a probable victory that would bring rare good news to his homeland.
Rashid, on the other hand, told AFP that conjecture about his personal life in the run-up to the tournament, which is currently taking place in Oman and the UAE, will not derail his plans.
He denied ever saying, “I will marry when Afghanistan win a World Cup.”
“Actually, I was so shocked when I heard this because, to be honest, I never made a statement that I will marry once I win the World Cup,” said Rashid, whose family lives in Nangarhar in the eastern part of Afghanistan.
“I just said that in the next few years I have more cricket and three World Cups (the 2021 and 2022 Twenty20 World Cups and the 50-over World Cup in 2023) so my focus will be on cricket rather than on getting married.”
Rashid, who made his Afghanistan debut at the age of 17, is one of the most in-demand players in international cricket.
He’s already appeared in 51 T20 international matches and over 280 T20 games for franchises all over the world.
He has had a successful career that has taken him to England, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, and, of course, the Indian Premier League, where he has been a regular with Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2017.
He has 95 T20 international wickets at an average of 12.63 and was named ICC Cricketer of the Decade in the format in 2020.
‘Spin will be crucial on the Gulf’s low, sluggish wickets’
“I think it will be a spinners’ World Cup,” said Rashid. “The wickets here are mostly very good for spinners, so I think that’s the main reason most of the teams have more spinners in their attack.”
Rashid isn’t Afghanistan’s only front-line spinner; Mujeeb Ur Rahman and skipper Mohammad Nabi are also in the team.
“What I noticed during the Indian Premier League (the conclusion of which was also played in the UAE) was that wickets were good but there was not that much spin,” said Rashid.
“But I think the more we play in this World Cup we might see wickets which are a bit different and the more you play on these tracks it becomes slower and slower and they will be handy for spinners.”
Rashid refused to pick a favourite for the World Cup, which is in its seventh edition.
“Well it’s T20 and anyone can beat anyone on the day,” said Rashid, who stepped down from captaincy ahead of the tournament after not being consulted in the squad selection.
“We have a mixture of both experienced and young players and, most importantly, it’s quite balanced with a few all-rounders which makes the side very balanced, especially in T20 when you have more of that all-round option.”
Afghanistan are in Group 2 of the World Cup with India, Pakistan, New Zealand and two qualifiers in the Super 12 stage which begins on Saturday.