Rashid Khan had made a name for himself even before Sunrisers Hyderabad bought him for INR 4 crore at the IPL auction, and they immediately asked him to take his game to the next level. How well Rashid has adjusted to the challenge.
Of the 546 deliveries Rashid had bowled in T20 internationals, only six were in the Powerplay. In his first two IPL matches, having seen the opposition get off to quick starts, his captain David Warner asked him to bowl inside the first six on both occasions.
Rashid's response has shown he is good enough for that challenge. Turning the ball either way - but only a small distance - Rashid is exceptionally difficult to pick in T20 cricket when the batsmen don't watch the release as closely as they do in longer formats. Rashid's quick-arm action only compounds the batsmen's problems.
Rashid's biggest weapon, though, is accuracy. He invariably ends up bowling at the stumps, which makes any error fatal. Not only did Rashid respond to Warner's call by taking out Gujarat Lions' big three - Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Suresh Raina - he trapped them all in front. This was the first time a bowler had taken three lbw(s) in an IPL innings. This was also the first time a bowler had taken all three of McCullum, Finch and Raina out in the same innings.
For good measure, Rashid claimed a direct-hit run-out later in the innings to reduce Lions to their second-lowest total while batting first in the IPL - both against Sunrisers.
The wow moment
Rashid picked McCullum as his favourite wicket, but with Raina he had to get his man out twice. He gave Raina the wrong'un first up, but Warner dropped his opposite number at slip. In his third over, though, Rashid had him plumb lbw with a legbreak. The beauty of the dismissal was the distance Raina missed the ball by - clearly showing the batsmen's brains were by now so scrambled that they had no clue which way Rashid was turning the ball.
Twenty-three of the 24 balls Rashid bowled ended up either on the stumps or just outside off.
The two legspinners, Rashid and Imran Tahir, now have the joint-highest wickets this IPL - 5; but with a better economy rate, Rashid has claimed the purple cap.
Thirty-three of Rashid's 61 T20 wickets are either bowled or lbw
Rashid has taken 23 T20 wickets this year, joint-highest with Sunil Narine
What they said
"It's a wonderful moment for me to get the purple cap. I will try my best to keep it. The way I am bowling, it is very difficult for the batsman which way it will go. So I am trying to mix it up. I am really enjoying it at the moment. I don't go for the wickets, I know if I get in enough dot balls, the batsmen will give away the wicket."
Rashid Khan is enjoying his success
"Rashid Khan you beauty. In the land of the Hyderabadi biryani the Chicken Afghani making a serious statement. @SunRisers @IPL #SRHvGL"
Ravi Shastri finds the newest spin sensation sumptuous