Afghanistan's Rashid Khan leads leg-spinners' T20I domination

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Rashid Khan is the leading T20I bowler in the world.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan was once again the star of the show as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by 45 runs in first T20I in Dehradun on Sunday.

The 19-year-old finished with figures of 3-13 from his three overs to hand the Afghans a 1-0 lead in the series. Rashid’s excellent display is the latest in a growing purple patch for leg-spinners in limited-overs cricket.

Once considered to be expendable in limited-overs cricket due to their propensity to leak runs, leg-spinners are now topping the ranking charts. The top five spots in the ICC T20I rankings are currently occupied by leg-spinners. Here, we take a look at these five bowlers.

5. SAMUEL BADREE (WEST INDIES)

The 37-year-old leg-spinner has been a mainstay of the West Indies T20I squad for some years now. Badree’s ability to bowl with supreme control during the powerplay has been his calling card.

The leg-spinner is a veteran of various T20 franchise leagues around the globe and has made 49 appearances for the West Indies. He is one of the trickiest customers to score runs against with an economy-rate of just 6.05.

Badree has always been highly economical.

Badree has always been economical.

4. ISH SODHI (NEW ZEALAND)

Ish Sodhi is another leg-spinner who has grown in stature in limited-overs cricket over the last few years. The India-born spinner recently made a huge impact for Rajasthan Royals in his maiden IPL stint after showing that same consistency with New Zealand.

The 25-year-old has a habit of picking up wickets in heaps with an average of 19.33 and a strike-rate of 15.60 in T20I cricket.

Sodhi had an excellent maiden IPL with Rajasthan Royals.

Sodhi had an excellent maiden IPL with Rajasthan Royals.

3. YUZVENDRA CHAHAL (INDIA)

Yuzvendra Chahal rose to prominence with the IPL and he has cemented his position in India’s limited-overs setup in no time. The 27-year-old’s lethal partnership with fellow wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has displaced India’s veteran spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the white-ball squad.

Chahal has picked up 35 wickets in just 21 T20I matches for India including a best of 6-25 against England.

Chahal has established himsel in India's limited-overs setup.

Chahal has established himself in India’s limited-overs setup.

2. SHADAB KHAN (PAKISTAN)

At just 19 years of age, Shadab Khan has already played 16 T20Is and 17 ODIs for Pakistan. The leg-spinner has enjoyed a meteoric rise since being handed his debut against the West Indies last year.

Shadab has managed to pick up his 24 wickets in T20I cricket at an astonishing average of 15.41 and a miserly economy-rate of just 6.28. Possesses an excellent googly in his arsenal to bamboozle the best of the batsmen.

Shadab Khan had an excellent 2017 for Pakistan.

Shadab Khan had an excellent 2017 for Pakistan.

1. RASHID KHAN (AFGHANISTAN)

The 19-year-old has been a breath of fresh air in the world of cricket. With 44 ODIs and 31 T20Is already under his belt, the teenager has a wealth of experience in limited-overs cricket and he has been in demand in all T20 leagues around the world.

Rashid’s record at the T20I level is incredible, with his 52 wickets coming at an astonishing average of just 13.57 and an economy-rate of 6.03.

Rashid Khan has taken T20 cricket by storm.

Rashid Khan has taken T20 cricket by storm.

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Buttler and Azhar Ali among winners and losers from England and Pakistan Test series

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England‘s response to a humbling defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s was a victory by an innings and 55 runs at Headingley in the second Test, securing a draw in the two-match contest.

It was a priceless success for Joe Root’s men – their first win in nine Tests – to lift some of the doom and gloom from a winter of discontent and the toughest period of his captaincy to date.

Here, we look back at the winners and losers from the series, which unfortunately, ended all too prematurely.

Kicking things off with the players that performed well.

Winners

Jos Buttler

The England team feels like a better place with the explosive batsman in it.

It wasn’t a gamble to recall the 27-year-old to Test cricket whatsoever, it was simply common sense.

Buttler, who set alight the Indian Premier League with five consecutive half-centuries for the Rajasthan Royals, is arguably one of the most naturally gifted and attacking batsmen England have ever produced, Kevin Pietersen aside.

Playing for England in Test whites for the first time since December 2016 in India, the Lancashire wicket-keeper batsman – who is considered a white-ball specialist given his exploits in short-form cricket – averaged 53.66 against Pakistan.

Batting at No.7, he injected much-needed life into an England team short on confidence and in-form cricketers. He also struck fear into the opposition, too – something, again, the Three Lions have lacked since Pietersen’s days.

His second innings 67 in the first Test was one bright spot from a dismal loss and he inspired England on day three in Leeds with an emphatic 80* at Headingley. If he had not run out of partners, that could well have been his first Test ton.

There is no doubt that will arrive soon, possibly against India, as Buttler rebuilds his Test career as an all-format batsman and polishes his reputation as a man who can change the course of a game at will.

Jos Buttler will be hoping to score heavily.

Outstanding: Jos Buttler is born-again in Tests.

Mohammad Abbas

If Buttler’s recall by new England selector Ed Smith was a stroke of genius, Pakistan pacer Abbas’ emergence as a Test star is certainly on a par if not better.

It was, at times, like poetry in motion watching the 28-year-old – playing in just his seventh and eighth Tests for Pakistan – smoothly run into the crease and deliver telling line and length deliveries, with movement, nip, seam and some swing.

Reminiscent of Mohammad Asif in his pomp before the 2010 spot-fixing scandal ruined his career, Abbas was the leading wicket-taker from either side in the two matches. 10 wickets at 14.20 is some return, bettering that of James Anderson who recorded nine victims at 19.11.

Two four-fers at Lord’s were followed by 2-78 at Headingley, where Pakistan’s batting struggles cost him the chance of repeating his tricks at the Home of Cricket.

A deadly bowler and Pakistan’s man of the series, he dismissed Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Buttler – all lbw – at Lord’s and has turned out to be a brilliant find for his country having only made his debut last year.

He served as the perfect foil for fellow opening bowler Mohammad Amir, given Abbas’ ability to bowl long spells consistently and take a huge chunk of the workload burden.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Mohammad Abbas of Pakistan during day two of the 2nd NatWest Test match between England and Pakistan at Headingley on June 2, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Star turn: Mohammad Abbas.

Honourable Mentions

Dom Bess

The 20-year-old earned a surprise call-up and although he is still very much learning his trade, showed signs that he has got potential. Proved to be a capable nightwatchman, scoring 111 runs at 37 and bowled well in the second innings in Leeds, finishing with 3-33. Could fill noticeable gap in spin department if his bowling can continue to improve.

Shadab Khan

The 19-year-old’s emergence has been a real fillet for Pakistan and while his gift of leg-break spin is seen as the dominant tool in his armoury, he showed grit in the series and scored two consecutive fifties. A man who could have a big international future ahead in the game.

Stuart Broad

Soaked up plenty of criticism that came his way and fired a few shots back too (at Michael Vaughan), before letting his bowling do the talking again. Not quite at his best but took six wickets in Leeds and got England’s tails up when they needed it most.

Losers

Sam Curran 

Harsh to put him into this category after his Test debut but looks too much like a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer with no real stand-out attribute.

Like his late father Kevin and brother Tom, who made his England bow during the winter in the Ashes, is a determined individual and clearly a popular character with a lot about him. Let’s not forget the Surrey all-rounder only celebrated his 20th birthday during the match.

But, in terms of pure cricketing ability, he is not the answer England need moving forward and is arguably another case of a Test cap being handed out all too easily.

His inclusion had shades of one Test wonders Simon Kerrigan, Scott Borthwick and Mason Crane.

Curran claimed one wicket but lacks pace, hostility and is clearly still maturing physically. It was a real strange selection from England and although they got away with it due to Pakistan’s frailties, he is surely not an option they will use moving forward.

When a player lacks experience but is obvious quality in the making – recalling India’s selection of paceman Jasprit Bumrah who at the time had barely had any first-class experience but was too good to ignore, is one thing – but Test match cricket is no place to experiment.

England's Sam Curran prepares to bowl on the third day of the second Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, northern England on June 3, 2018. (Photo by Lindsey PARNABY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Strange selection: Left-armer Sam Curran.

Azhar Ali

Pakistan needed their 33-year-old opener to have a huge tour of England but he severely misfired. The Lahore native, who began with a fifty at Lord’s but then deteriorated, was too cavalier in conditions supporting swing and seam.

There is no doubting his overall class as a player but an average of just 12.16 in six innings against Ireland and England during the two tours was a considerable blemish on Pakistan.

The boots of Misbah and Younis Khan were always going to be big, if not impossible to fill. However, Azhar spurned a good opportunity here.

He was all at sea when trying to flick Anderson into the leg-side in the second innings when Pakistan needed some resolve, only for the ball to rattle his middle stump.

The expectation on Pakistani batsmen is huge and it is not easy to manage from a cricket-mad nation.

The batsman in question has continually had critics throughout his 65-Test career about whether he is the right man to open and indeed should still be in the team.

That is a difficult burden in which to occupy the crease under and he will need to stew over this poor series until Pakistan’s next assigned Test cricket, likely to be in the UAE in October.

Pakistan's Azhar Ali is bowled by England's James Anderson for 11 on the third day of the second Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, northern England on June 3, 2018. (Photo by Lindsey PARNABY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

Azhar Ali’s stumps are blown away by Anderson.

Other notable names

Ben Stokes

He may have only played in one Test during the series after a hamstring problem ruled him out of the Headingley match, but still, England’s best all-round talent is struggling. Off the back of a well below-par IPL campaign, in which the $1.95 million Royals signing was billed as the biggest overseas flop of the tournament, he is still not quite firing on all cylinders despite three wickets in the only game he did play.

Sarfraz Ahmed

Captaining Pakistan is obviously one of world cricket’s best jobs but most draining at the same time. Under-performed with the bat – scoring just 31 runs – and Mickey Arthur was tearing what hair he has left out after his poor dismissal at Lord’s. Decent behind the stumps but he needed to set the tone with his batting, instead, at Headingley, his and the majority of Pakistan’s dismissals were poor.

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England's Chris Woakes ruled out of Scotland ODI with Tom Curran called up as replacement

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Woakes suffered a thigh injury during the second Test against Pakistan.

Chris Woakes has joined Ben Stokes on the injury sidelines for England‘s first one-day international of the summer against Scotland next weekend.

Woakes, who will be replaced by Tom Curran in the squad to play in Edinburgh, left the field late in England’s series-levelling Test match win over Pakistan at Headingley, with a thigh injury.

The England and Wales Cricket Board then confirmed via its Twitter account early on Monday morning that the seamer will not be travelling for Sunday’s one-off match.

A brief ECB statement read: “Chris Woakes has been ruled out of the Scotland ODI with tightness in his right quad.

“He is replaced in the squad by Surrey’s Tom Curran.

Curran will replace the injured Woakes.

Curran will replace the injured Woakes.

“Woakes will be assessed this week to ascertain if he’ll be fit for the Australia series.”

Woakes’ participation in the five-match Royal London Series against Australia is therefore uncertain – as is Stokes’, after he missed the Leeds Test with a hamstring tear.

Curran has eight ODI caps and was part of the team which won world number one England’s last series in New Zealand three months ago.

He was not chosen initially to face either Scotland or Australia, however, following Liam Plunkett’s return to fitness.

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