Rashid Khan — from Refugee in Peshawar to Afghanistan’s World Cup Warrior in US

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KABUL – Rashid Khan’s rise to become a multi-millionaire cricket superstar began in the most desperate of circumstances as a refugee living in Peshawar.

However, as an in-demand franchise cricketer with his box of leg-spin tricks, the 25-year-old has now amassed riches which would have been unimaginable when his family fled the war in Afghanistan.

His most recent deal in the money-spinning Indian Premier League earned him an estimated $1.8 million and he boasts homes in Dubai and Sharjah.

Now, the Afghanistan captain also finds himself just two wins away from the T20 World Cup title.

For the coach who taught him cricket during his formative years in Pakistan, he was always destined for greatness.

“Rashid has a blessed right hand with which he bowls world class deliveries,” Rashid’s sports teacher Ali Hoti told AFP by telephone from Peshawar.

“His focus, commitment and talent were exemplary and he is now a role model across the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Rashid and his family — he is one of 11 children — had followed a well-trodden path from the turmoil of war in Afghanistan to the relative safety of neighbouring Pakistan.

His parents had owned a tyre company in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The young Rashid was also educated in his adopted home, studying computer science at Peshawar’s Islamia College.

“During cricket trials, we saw huge talent in Rashid so we got him admission in computer science. He was a good student as well and that was the start of his career in 2013,” added 39-year-old Hoti.

An unassuming teenager of few words, Rashid hit the ground running, scoring a century in a match and then helped his team to the local collegiate final.

“Rashid was a better batter than a bowler but later he developed the skills of leg-break and with his focus attained good success,” said Hoti.

“His best trait was to understand the situation of a game.”

‘Team man’

Rashid’s big international break came when former Pakistan skippers Rashid Latif, Inzamam-ul-Haq and fast bowler Kabir Khan coached Afghanistan in the team’s early years.

“An Afghanistan team came to Peshawar in 2014 and played some matches during which Rashid’s performances caught the eye and the rest is history,” added Hoti.

Since making his debut in 2015, Rashid has played almost 200 one-day internationals and T20s.

He has also featured in five Afghanistan Test matches even if his 2018 debut was forgettable as he went 2-154 in an innings defeat by India.

That did not prevent him becoming the youngest ever Test captain at just 20 and his international career has so far yielded a total of 369 wickets.

As a T20 franchise cricketer, he helped Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in 2023 and guided Lahore Qalandars to back-to-back titles in the Pakistan Super League in 2022 and 2023.

Qalandars’ chief operating officer Sameen Rana praised Rashid as a “team man”.

“For me Rashid is not only humble but the most selfless person and his work ethic is next level as he never shies away from putting in an extra yard for the team. For him the team comes first,” said Rana.

At the ongoing T20 World Cup, Afghanistan defeated New Zealand in the first round to help earn a Super Eights place before they clinched a stunning victory over former champions Australia.

Rashid has led from the front, taking 4-17 against New Zealand and 1-23 against Australia.

However, his best of 4-23, and a score of 19 not out off just 10 balls came in the crunch game against Bangladesh, earning Afghanistan a semi-final spot at a World Cup for the first time.

His aggressive captaincy has not spared his own players — in the nail-biting win over Bangladesh on Monday, he even threw his bat towards Karim Janat who had refused a second run which deprived him of the strike. -AFP

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