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When Rashid Khan walked to the crease on the opening night of the resumption of the PSL, the Lahore Qalandars needed 22 from eight balls. Tim David was facing up to the last two balls of Hasan Ali's thus-far excellent 19th over, where just one run had been conceded till then. David hit a straight six down the ground to end the over, leaving Rashid with the strike for the last over.
Sixteen needed to win - no team in the PSL had ever chased down that many - but still, no big hits on Rashid's mind.
"The plan that I went to the crease with, my mindset was, I am not going to play big shots here because if I did that I could've gotten out," Rashid said post-match. "When I got there I thought I'll just try and find some gaps here. The bowler was new also. If he bowled in my areas my thinking was just to try and hit gaps."
Shadab Khan, Islamabad United's captain, chose to go with Hussain Talat for that last over, a decision that caused surprise at the time - Shadab himself had an over left - and was criticised post-fact of the loss. Spinners don't often bowl last overs in T20s and the dew played a part in Shadab's decision not to bowl himself. Shadab said after the game he hadn't bowled himself out earlier because it would have pitted him against a left-handed batter at the crease but it also later emerged that an injury to Faheem Ashraf forced them into a recalculation.
That, and that United do believe Talat is a legitimate death-overs option (he has only bowled at the death 10 innings out of 30 in the PSL and for Pakistan, but more often in the National T20). His first ball, however, a slower offcutter gave Rashid exactly the kind of room outside off stump which he loves, as well as just the start to that final over the Qalandars needed. Rashid lofted it over cover for four and didn't look back; he repeated the shot next ball and a fortuitous third boundary left them with a simpler task.
"I was planning on looking for those gaps, but it so happened I got three boundaries off those first three balls and then we needed four off three. Definitely, in games and situations like this, you have to keep a cool mind. You have to stay relaxed. When you need six sixes, you have to go for it. Here I just needed two proper shots and you win the game."
The cameo sealed the Player-of-the-Match award for Rashid too, his unbeaten, five-ball 15 the cherry on top of bowling figures of 4-0-9-1. Rashid had initially signed on for just a two-game contract when the season began in February-March, before joining up with Afghanistan for international duty and then to the T20 Blast with Sussex. He chose instead to extend his contract and stay on with Qalandars.
"It really was a team effort for us tonight, everyone took responsibility for the game. One guy doesn't win you a game. The most important spell was [James] Faulkner at the top, Haris [Rauf] bowled really well through the middle, then Sohail [Akhtar] took responsibility with the bat, and Mohammad Hafeez and Ben Dunk. In T20s, you don't win with one guy, the entire team has to do their bits collectively for it."