Afghan sensation Rashid nursing Test cricket dreams

Afghan sensation Rashid nursing Test cricket dreams

Rashid Khan has set the Indian Premier League alight just two matches into his maiden season, and while he is enjoying the cut and thrust of the lucrative Twenty20 competition the teenage Afghan spinner says playing Test cricket is his ultimate dream.

Sunrisers Hyderabad raised eyebrows by splurging Rs 4 crore ($620,780) in February's auction to land the unheralded leg-spinner from Afghanistan, where cricket is highly popular but sporting facilities are pitifully inadequate after decades of war.

However, Hyderabad had clearly done their homework as Rashid grabbed the top wicket-taker's 'purple cap' on Sunday after his 3/19 set up a comprehensive win over Gujarat Lions.

Rashid is the first Afghan to play in the IPL and while he is enjoying his time in the limelight he has not lost sight of his long-term goals. "The target is to play Test cricket for my country," the 18-year-old told Reuters in a telephone interview before the game against Gujarat. "That's my main target, to be called a Test cricketer."

Afghanistan are knocking on the door of Test cricket after beating Ireland in last month's ICC Inter-continental Cup and Rashid said it would be "wonderful" to play a five-day match. Afghanistan's steady progress has boosted their chances of joining 'Full Members' like India and Australia.

For now though, Rashid has to be content with the shorter forms of the game.
He says he is using his time in the IPL to learn from elite players, pick the brains of top coaches and get used to performing in front of huge crowds. "It's been a wonderful experience, playing with big names like (David) Warner, Yuvraj (Singh), Kane Williamson. We've one of the best coaching staff that includes Tom Moody and (Muttiah) Muralitharan. It changes your game," he added.

Rashid impressed immediately against Royal Challengers Bangalore, claiming two wickets, and his googly is so well camouflaged that even Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch could not read it in the match against Gujarat.

But he would never have had the chance to shine without Hyderabad's gamble in the February 20 auction, in which even Imran Tahir, who tops both the one-day and Twenty20 bowling rankings, went unsold.

Rashid was touring Zimbabwe with the Afghanistan team when he received a call from his family early one morning asking him to follow the auction. "I woke up and was watching the auction. Imran Tahir's name came and went. I was a little bit tense and was thinking if he was not taken then how would I be?

"It was wonderful to be part of an IPL team. You can't express that feeling," he said.

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