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Cricket news - Sensible cricket in middle overs key to success in UAE - Rashid Khan

Sunrisers Hyderabad legspinner Rashid Khan has advised his side's inexperienced middle order to play sensible cricket in the middle overs to attain success. Speaking to the media via a virtual press conference ahead of SRH's tournament opener against RCB, Rashid highlighted the importance of not always going for the big shots in the UAE.

For SRH, the focus this season has been on their middle order where a few young players have joined Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar. "We have guys like Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar and other youngsters in the middle order; they all can hit the ball a long way," Rashid said. "But sometimes on big grounds, you need to play sensible cricket. So it's not just about hitting big sixes as we saw last night (CSK vs MI) as well, how (Faf) du Plessis took it till the end and finished it well. I think the team that does these things well will be successful. That's what matters in the UAE. When you play sensible cricket in the middle overs, I think it helps you to get the positive results as in the end, the power-hitters can give you 50-60 runs in last five overs."

Rashid himself will target a bigger role with the bat this time around in case SRH designate him the number 7 spot. "I always have this thing in mind that I am more effective when I bat in the last three-four overs where I can play my shots," he noted. "When I was playing in the Big Bash, I was told clearly by the captain and the coaching staff that 'Rash, this is when you are gonna go in, after 14th-15th over, that's your time. It doesn't matter if we are down one wicket or two wickets'. When you get the positive-ness from the coach and captain, you just focus on what you are going to do. But I shouldn't be thinking about when I am coming in to bat. What I think about is what I can do in that time, whether it's three overs, one over or one delivery."

Rashid dismissed suggestions that players who have arrived in the UAE having played in the CPL will have an advantage over the other players who haven't played any form of cricket over the last few months. "Players have been here for the last three weeks," he pointed out. "Still it's totally different playing a game, but if you are a professional cricketer, those five-six months shouldn't affect you that much. That's how I felt too when I played in the CPL for the first time. I had good net sessions and as soon as I came back to the field, I didn't feel I was playing after five-six months. I have been playing consistently for the last four-five years and suddenly if there is a five-six months break that shouldn't affect me a lot. I think that would be the case for everyone else as well. You just need five-six-ten deliveries to be back."

Rashid's duel against Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the middle overs could turn out to be the key in the RCB innings but the Afghanistan youngster is geared up for the challenge. "Although I have just played in the CPL, the IPL is a different league, different pressure," he said. "And then you are playing against big names, like Virat, AB de Villiers. I have bowled to him in the World Cup and in the IPL previously. You have to bowl your best deliveries against him. No doubt he is one of the best players but there is no excuse for bowling a bad ball against him where he can smash you anywhere. I will just try my best to keep it simple and enjoy my game."

The 22-year-old has also revealed that he isn't fussed about the lack of wickets in recent times as long as he is being effective enough to win games. Rashid's strike rate since 2019 in T20 cricket has increased significantly compared to previous years with teams preferring to take the cautious approach against the leggie. "To be honest, I never think about I have to take these many wickets," he said. "I am always focusing on bowling economically. When I am bowling economically, that helps other bowlers in the side to take wickets as well.

"I have always focused on bowling a lot of dot balls and to put the batsman under pressure, so that he tries to take risks from the other end, or even against me. That's what I am mostly thinking about. What the team requirement is at that time, do I need to make the asking rate high, do I need to bowl dot balls. If I take five wickets and the team loses, it doesn't make sense. If I take one wicket but we win the match, that's what matters."

With the players expected to stay in the bubble for two months, Rashid conceded that it is vital for everyone to stay mentally fresh in order to give 100% on the field. "It's 14 games and at the same time, you have those restrictions as well," he said. "The guy who can enjoy the most and keep himself mentally fresh, I think he will be successful in this competition. That's going to be the toughest challenge for all the players."

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