HYDERABAD:In cricket, there have been many a mystery bowler. There was a time when uncanny Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis proved to be a headache. The off-spinner had 3-4 variations up his sleeve, none more effective than his stock delivery, the off-break. More recently, it was West Indies’ Sunil Narine, once the world’s best T20 bowler. An action tweak may have reduced his potency, but batsmen are never sure against the Caribbean off-spinner.
Now, it looks like Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan will turn on the heat in this year’s IPL. Just two matches old, Rashid has been able to do what Mustafizur Rahman did for Sunrisers last year — pick wickets at regular intervals. He has five scalps already, and is looking good for more.
On Sunday, against Gujarat Lions here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, the 18-year-old brought out a good mix of googlies and leg-breaks. He proved too good for Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Suresh Raina, all lbw. Rashid conceded just one boundary from four overs. He has not let Sunrisers miss Mustafizur.
It was a decent outing for other Hyderabad bowlers too. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was at his usual best, and picked up the crucial wickets of Jason Roy and Dwyane Smith. A potent death-overs bowler, the Uttar Pradesh lad curbed the run flow towards the end of the Gujarat innings, restricting them to just 135/7 in their full quota.
If the first innings belonged to Rashid, it was a David Warner show in the second. The Hyderabad skipper produced a magical innings of 76 runs to announce his return to form.The southpaw showed glimpses from last year, and scored his 23rd fifty for the team, and ninth in Hyderabad.
He struck two boundaries off the first two deliveries of both IPL debutants, Tejas Baroka and Basil Thampi. The carnage did not stop there, as he struck six fours and four sixes in all.
Moises Henriques once again shone with the bat, and scored his second fifty of the tournament in as many games. He was the perfect foil to Warner, and relied more on rotating the strike, knowing his captain was in a destructive mood.
There was not much joy for Gujarat, as none of the batsmen could get going. Initially, Roy looked good, but the Englishman got out for 31. Dinesh Karthik and Smith too chipped in with 30-odd runs each, but couldn ft convert their starts.