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IPL 2024: Why Rashid Khan is Turning Out to be a Flop?

Rashid Khan, the Afghan leg-spinner, has carved his name as one of the best bowlers in IPL history. Debuting in 2017 for Sunrisers Hyderabad, he impressed with his bamboozling deliveries, finishing the season as the sixth-highest wicket-taker.

His crafty spin and deceptive googlies continued to torment batsmen, making him a crucial part of SRH's journey to the 2018 finals. While Rashid never bagged a Purple Cap, his consistency has been phenomenal.

He holds the record for being the joint-fastest spinner to reach 100 IPL wickets. In 2022, he joined the Gujarat Titans and played a pivotal role in their maiden IPL title win.

Despite not being a big hitter, Rashid contributes with his handy lower-order cameos. His aggressive bowling and electric fielding have made him a complete package.

However, in IPL 2024, Rashid Khan has yet to make a huge impact and has failed to do his job on many occasions. The story of one of the most crucial T20 players in the world has come to a point where he is unable to help the team as an all-rounder.

Recovering from Back Surgery: A Work in Progress

Rashid Khan's struggles can be partly attributed to his recent lower back surgery. The surgery, which took place after the 2023 World Cup, kept him out of action for a significant period. 

This lack of competitive cricket has hampered his rhythm and match fitness. Early in the season, Rashid himself acknowledged the impact of the surgery.  In a post-match interview, he admitted to still “getting used to bowling in the middle”. This lack of sharpness is evident in his bowling figures. 

In his first five matches, he managed only five wickets at a high average of 34.60 and an economy rate of 8.65, a far cry from his usual stingy spells.

The Challenge of Reading the Modern Batsman

The modern T20 batsman has become increasingly adept at picking Rashid's variations. Batsmen are specifically targeting him during the powerplay, a phase where he was once a nightmare for them. Statistics reveal a worrying trend – Rashid's powerplay economy has ballooned to a concerning 9.63 since 2022.

This suggests that batsmen are comfortably dealing with his initial deliveries, putting the pressure back on him early on. Furthermore, batsmen are now better equipped to counter his googly, his signature weapon.  Years of facing him have allowed them to analyze his bowling style and develop strategies to counter his variations. 

This has forced Rashid to explore new deliveries and add more variety to his repertoire, a process that takes time and experience.

Increased Pressure and Team Composition Issues

The Gujarat Titans, Rashid's current franchise, might be inadvertently contributing to his struggles.  Following Hardik Pandya's departure to Mumbai Indians, Rashid has been thrust into a leadership role within the bowling attack. 

This added responsibility, coupled with his form issues, can be a double burden. The team composition might also be a factor. The Titans lack a world-class spinner to complement Rashid.

This puts the onus solely on him to deliver breakthroughs, which can be challenging against strong batting lineups. An experienced spinner alongside him could share the workload and provide crucial support.

A Glimmer of Hope: Signs of a Rashid Khan Revival

Despite the initial struggles, there are signs that Rashid Khan is clawing his way back to form.  In the recent match against Rajasthan Royals, he displayed glimpses of his old magic, taking crucial wickets and helping his team secure a last-ball victory.

This suggests that his match fitness is improving, and his confidence might be on the rise. Furthermore, Rashid's ability to adapt and reinvent himself shouldn't be underestimated. Throughout his career, he has shown a remarkable ability to learn and improve.  He's likely working on new deliveries and strategies to regain his edge.

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