Back of a length helps Rashid Khan bounce back


He’s only 19, but he’s already played over 70 times at the top level for Afghanistan, and featured in T20 leagues around the world. It’s this experience that Rashid Khan fell back on after two forgettable IPL outings, to produce figures of 2 for 11 from four overs and help Sunrisers Hyderabad defend 118 against Mumbai Indians.
Asked how he had prepared mentally after his maulings at the hands of Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, Rashid replied with the kind of wisdom and understanding of the game one usually doesn’t associate with a teenager.
“Jab tak aapko maar nahi padi hai, tab tak aap seekh nahi sakte (You don’t learn as a bowler until you are hit for runs).”
What went against Rashid in Sunrisers’ last two games was that he had to bowl a lot to left-hand batsmen Chris Gayle and Suresh Raina. While he does perform significantly better against right-hand batsmen, Rashid admitted on Tuesday night that he had also bowled too full in those two games. Raina carted him for 24 off only nine balls and Gayle clobbered six sixes against the legspinner for a total of 42 off 16.
Of the nine balls Rashid bowled to Raina, eight landed in the good-length area and only one – a dot ball – was short of a length, according to ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball data. Against Gayle in Mohali, Rashid did not bowl a single short-of-length delivery; 13 pitched in the good-length area, two were full, and one was a full toss. The full-toss and the two full-length deliveries were all hammered for sixes.
Rashid perhaps bowled on the fuller side of a good length to Raina and Gayle to give them less time to adjust off the pitch if they didn’t pick his variations from his hand, which is usually a difficult task given his quick-arm action. As a result, batsmen are trapped in two minds and are often beaten, which results in quite a few bowled and lbw dismissals. But bowlers often need to change their lengths depending on the conditions and the nature of the pitch, or the kind of batsmen they are up against. Rashid realised this and changed his strategy against Mumbai.
“I bowled a little bit fuller in the last two games which didn’t help me and I was punished,” he said. “The only thing today was to bowl in a good-length area as much as possible and that’s what helped me bowl with good figures. The only thing was line and length, that’s what I have worked on and it’s a positive.”