Match Analysis

The decimation and redemption of Rashid Khan

Despite a rare off-colour day with the ball against his former team, he still emerged the match-winner for Titans

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Rashid Khan flays a six over extra cover, Gujarat Titans vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2022, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, April 27, 2022

Business as usual: If he can't do it with the ball, Rashid Khan will deliver with the bat  •  BCCI

It was business as usual for Rashid Khan.
Sunrisers Hyderabad were 53 for 2 in the sixth over when he was given the ball. Aiden Markram had just faced a couple of deliveries, and Abhishek Sharma was on 21 off 16 but wasn't looking fluent after being inconvenienced by the short balls from Mohammed Shami and Yash Dayal. The pair was happy to take six off Rashid's first over. Business as usual.
An over later, Abhishek was confident enough to take on his former Sunrisers team-mate. Rashid bowled one full, which the young left-hander hit over long-on. Rashid then changed ends. But that had little effect as Abhishek bookended his third over with sixes - both over deep midwicket - to take 16 off the over.
By the time Abhishek and Markram scored a further 13 in Rashid's last over - the 15th of the innings - he had given away 45 runs with no wickets to show for and Sunrisers had a firm base at 140 for 2 for the final-overs assault.
For context, before Wednesday's match, the most Rashid had given away in a game this season was 30 against Delhi Capitals. He was hit for two fours and three sixes by Abhishek and Markram and could bowl just two dots; in the previous seven games combined, Rashid had given away just seven fours and six sixes and had 60 dot balls to show.
Ahead of the mega auction earlier this year, Sunrisers had failed to retain Rashid, who was one of their consistent performers. Gujarat Titans picked him up in the draft for a whopping INR 15 crores (approx USD 2 million), the same amount they paid for Hardik Pandya. Having watched Rashid drop a catch from Rahul Tripathi in the fourth over followed by this assault, the Sunrisers management would have been quietly happy. After all, they had not just managed to thwart their former mainstay but even took him down on their way to a total that should have proved enough at the Wankhede, where there was no dew.
Speedster Umran Malik then breathed fire with a five-wicket haul that left Titans needing 56 from the last four overs, which became 47 from 18 balls. Wriddhiman Saha's 38-ball 68 was the bedrock of the chase till then. Rahul Tewatia was then joined by Rashid.
It is an open secret that Rashid works as much on his batting as on his bowling. And in this social-media age, a simple click of the mouse will lead us to a collection of clips showing him playing innovative and eye-catching strokes across various T20 leagues in the world.
In fact, a couple of matches ago against Chennai Super Kings, when Rashid had walked in with the bat, Titans had been 87 for 5 in the 13th over with 83 runs away from the 170-run target. He had played the perfect supporting act to the heroics of David Miller, scoring 40 off just 21 balls in a 70-run partnership, which eventually took Titans home.
But 47 from three overs that were to be shared by T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Marco Jansen was no joke. Rashid, though, managed to connect a helicopter stroke off Kumar in the 18th to send the ball soaring over deep midwicket, helping Titans shave 12 off the target.
In Tewatia, Titans have an electric finisher, who has made seemingly impossible last-ball finishes his staple, and he duly hit a four and a six off Natarajan in the penultimate over.
The equation now read 22 needed off 6 balls. The tall figure that is Jansen, who had returns of 3 for 25 to show in his previous outing, to bowl. Surely, Sunrisers had it in their control. Surely, they were on course to pip Titans twice this season. Tewatia smoked the first ball over cow corner but surely, Jansen could defend 15 from four.
Rashid did not have the best of nights on the field. But he "had the belief", as he would say multiple times after the match. Jansen went for the slower one, a delivery that seemed to work on the surface on the night, but saw it fly faster over his head for a maximum.
On the next ball, Jansen managed to outwit Rashid with a slower, short one outside off. Nine needed off two.
But Rashid was calmness personified in the middle. Jansen's missed yorker came at shin height outside off and he duly hit it over covers. As the cameras panned to the Sunrisers dugout, an animated Muthiah Muralidaran, the spin-bowling consultant, was seen shouting.
With three needed off the final delivery, Rashid pulled the slower short ball over fine leg to seal what looked like an improbable win five minutes ago. ESPNcricinfo's Forecaster gave Titans just an 11.12% chance of winning after the fourth ball of the last over, only for it to shoot up to 65.21% after the six on the penultimate delivery.
"I just told Tewatia that look we have given 25 in the last over bowled by [our] best bowler [Lockie] Ferguson," Rashid told the broadcaster after his heist. "If you miss a ball, don't think about it and panic. Just stay strong and finish it." Which is precisely what he did.
On a night when Rashid had been taken to the cleaners with the ball, he found a way to redeem himself and steer his team to another win. It is a quality that made him a valuable player for Sunrisers all these years. It was poetic that Sunrisers had to witness him do it all for the opposition.
For Rashid, it was just business as usual.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo