Afghanistan cricket’s presence in the international landscape was next to negligible less than a decade ago when the side played its first world cup down under in 2015. However, with the meteoric rise of leg spinner Rashid Khan at the international stage has revolutionised the way cricket is looked at in the country and at the world level.
His continued success, along with improved batting performances, meant T20 leagues around the globe sought for the Afghan star to play in their league. Rashid soon left his mark in Australia’s Big Bash League after IPL debut in 2017. The cricketer also recently played in the Caribbean T20 League before reaching the UAE for the biggest domestic T20 league.
Rashid, while talking to R Ashwin on his YouTube channel, revealed that after playing his debut IPL season with Sunrisers Hyderabad, he saw scores of youngsters being inspired by him in Afghanistan.
"After my IPL debut season in 2017, when I went back to Afghanistan and visited an academy. The coach of the academy told me that there are 124 leg spinners in the academy right now following me. That made me so happy and realise that if one academy has so many cricketers following me then I must be inspiring many more in the country to play cricket,” Rashid recalled.
While cricket has been a dominant sport in the country before the 21-year-old mystery spinner’s advent, Rashid said it was tough to find a role model in the country but likes of Anil Kumble and Shahid Afridi instil the feeling in him to play top-level cricket.
"It was tough for me because we didn’t have any role models as we didn’t have a team that was playing international cricket. Since childhood, I was a big fan of Shahid Afridi and Anil Kumble. I loved watching their bowling and I learnt a lot by watching them. It gave me a lot of energy to have the ambition to play cricket for my country,” said Rashid.