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Match Analysis

How Rashid's magic keeps earning batters' respect

He beat them with wrong'uns, length, dip, pace, and more to finish with 4-0-15-0

He took no wickets, and conceded no fours or sixes, so the chances are that highlights packages of Tuesday night's Qualifier at Eden Gardens will include no footage of Rashid Khan bowling.
But if you were there, and you watched him bowl, you'll remember it for a long, long time.
You'll remember this ball to Jos Buttler in the ninth over of Rajasthan Royals' innings. A legbreak that pitched on middle stump - or thereabouts - and beat the outside edge as Buttler prodded hurriedly from deep in his crease.
Watching from the media box, it briefly seemed as if Buttler was bowled, but what initially looked like the bails lighting up turned out to be the metallic finish of Wriddhiman Saha's keeping gloves glittering under the floodlights.
Illusions upon illusions.
It's possible that Buttler had failed to pick the legbreak out of the hand and played for the wrong'un - a common enough occurrence against Rashid. But before that, he had been done for length, his feet immobilised by Rashid's vicious overspin. The ball had dipped and landed significantly shorter than expected, and Buttler's front foot, having shaped to stride forward, had ended up going nowhere.
Against other wristspinners, batters can occasionally adjust when they are beaten in the air, and shift onto the back foot. At Rashid's pace, it's next to impossible.
This was the second time in a row that Rashid had beaten Buttler's outside edge. Then, in his next over, he turned a quick, fizzing wrong'un past the outside edge of the left-hand batter Devdutt Padikkal, for symmetry's sake. Again, the batter's feet were hypnotised into immobility.
Ten other bowlers bowled on Tuesday night and finished with a combined economy rate of 10.23. Rashid bowled four overs and conceded just 15 runs. That's 3.75 per over. While doing this, he was also beating the bat for fun.
At his post-match press conference, Hardik Pandya, Gujarat Titans' captain, put it simply when asked about Rashid's impact. "When I give him the ball, I just relax and let him do his magic."
Magic, yes, but there's more to it.
When Rashid finishes a match with an absurdly low economy rate, it can sometimes feel as if batters give him too much respect. That they play into his hands in the effort to deny him wickets. But respect, in cricket as everywhere else, must be earned.
Through the first half of Tuesday night's match, this Eden Gardens pitch was grippy and two-paced, and with Rashid turning the ball both ways at pace, it was always going to be difficult to go after him unless he erred in length. Rashid simply refused to do that. When he wasn't beating the bat, he was landing the ball on that typical Rashid length - slightly short of a traditional spinners' good length, which makes both the lofted hit down the ground and the sweep risky propositions - while targeting the stumps or following the batters' premeditated movements to deny them room.
He was willing to let them take singles to his deep fielders via punches down the ground or clips and jabs to the square sweepers. If they wanted any more than that, they were going to have to take risks.
Royals' batters refused to do this, and you could see why. They had only six genuine batters, notwithstanding the contributions R Ashwin has made this season. Buttler was struggling for fluency, and was perhaps setting himself up for a tame dismissal if he decided to go after Rashid on this surface. And on this day, the outcome of seeing out Rashid's overs was having both Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer at the crease when the last four overs began.
Hetmyer didn't last too long, but Buttler shrugged off his scratchy start, capitalised on a couple of lucky breaks, and tore into the fast bowlers at the finish. Having been on 39 off 38 at the end of the 16th over, he ransacked 50 off his last 18 balls.
Royals finished with 188, and their captain Sanju Samson maintained at the post-match presentation that it was an excellent effort given how the pitch behaved in the first half of the match. That dew made conditions easier to bat in during the chase was beyond Royals' control.
It still came down to Titans needing 16 off the last over. How many more might they have needed had Rashid Khan not done his thing?

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo