September 21, 2018 / 6:27 AM / in 2 months

Cricket: Afghan sensation Rashid celebrates 20th birthday in style

DUBAI (Reuters) - Afghanistan spin sensation Rashid Khan bid farewell to his teenage years with an exemplary all-round performance to help his side thrash Bangladesh in their Asian Cup clash in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Rashid smashed an unbeaten 57 off 32 deliveries, in a knock that included eight fours and a six, to lift Afghanistan to 255 for seven and then returned to torment Bangladesh with the ball in a man of the match display in the 136-run victory.

Celebrating his 20th birthday, he could do little wrong, finishing with figures of 2-13 in nine overs and also effecting a run out with a direct hit.

“It was a special day for me and I am really happy for my performance. The best thing is I contributed in batting, bowling and fielding,” Rashid said when collecting his award at the post-match presentation.

“That’s what we work so hard for. We will do our best to continue this form.”

Rashid has made rapid strides since his international debut as a 17-year-old in October 2015, and in February he became the youngest player to top the International Cricket Council bowler rankings in both white-ball formats.

His stock as a batsman is also on the rise as he completed his third one-day international half-century on Thursday.

“I wanted to bat until the end whatever the total we get,” he said, having added 95 for the unbroken eighth wicket with Gulbadin Naib, who scored 42 off 38 balls. “I wanted to focus on each and every ball, and finish the innings.”

Rashid has played a major role in Afghanistan’s journey to becoming a test-playing nation, and earlier in the year became the fastest to take 100 wickets in ODIs, beating Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc’s achievement by eight matches.

He is already a renowned strike bowler and has made a name for himself in Twenty20 leagues around the world, proving his worth in both the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL).

He was introduced in the 22nd over on Thursday and soon made his mark by dismissing all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan for 32, cutting short Bangladesh’s recovery bid after they were earlier reduced to 43-4.

“I come late to bowl in ODIs and T20s because I want to build the pressure on the batsmen, bowl more dot balls which help me get wickets,” Rashid added.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in ; Editing by John O'Brien

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