The role of a leg-spinner in T20 cricket has evolved so much over the years. It is quite amusing to think there were fears in the initial days that the art of wrist spin might lose its essence in the shortest format. Now, they’re an asset worth their weight in gold and to have one of the best leg-spinners in the world with Gujarat Titans is indeed a blessing. 

Rashid Khan, who had a stellar outing last season picking up 19 wickets, already has 18 this time and is on par with teammate and Purple Cap holder Mohammad Shami. Talking about his rise with the Gujarat Titans, our Assistant Coach Ashish Kapoor highlighted what makes the spin wizard so lethal.  

“It is very difficult to pick his deliveries because of his speed. If you don’t pick it up early, you have already missed it,” he said in the post-match press conference in Jaipur. 

“If you’re playing across the line or not reading the wrong one properly, it is going to be hard. The moment you miss his line, 99% you’re gone. We saw that with Ashwin and Hetmyer dismissals, they were caught in two minds and we got the wickets.”

Kapoor also explained about the hard yards put in by Rashid to better his performances in TATA IPL 2023. 

“Rashid has 500+ wickets in this format. As a cricketer you tend to have a few off days but he worked on his run-up. He realised he was running in a bit too fast, because of which his hand was dropping and the ball was pitching short. He wanted to get that right as quickly as possible. He is a top class player who understands his game,” Kapoor added. 

Noor Ahmad has been a sensational addition to the Playing XI this season, who has already picked up 10 wickets.

Noor is the youngest player to represent the Gujarat Titans in TATA IPL and has been with us since last season. Our Assistant Coach, who previously was part of the All-India Junior Selection Committee, had spotted the talent of this young spinner during his U19 days with Afghanistan and insisted on roping him into the Titans family. 

“I’ve seen him as a junior national selector and I gave his name to a lot of teams to pick this guy. He was only 17 then. When I got a chance with Gujarat Titans last time, I said ‘Let me pick one guy’ and I asked for him. For me, he was a left-handed Rashid Khan and not many knew him then. To have one such spinner is great and to have two of them is a deadly combination,” Kapoor revealed. 

Talking about his development, Kapoor said, “We’ve been working on his technique to improve his consistency. In the middle overs we needed two spinners and that is why I kept pestering (Ashish) Nehra with him. He is a difficult bowler to pick and with his presence, we can use Rashid whenever we can. It is a huge bonus.” 

Aashish Kapoor has been working with Noor even beyond the TATA IPL as well. “He used to send me his bowling videos and we would get on a call to discuss. This season, he already has plenty of experience having played in some leagues around the world.” 

“He is now an international cricketer for Afghanistan as well. It wasn’t the first time (this season) for him to play alongside big players. He is getting used to it. He was a very confident player at junior level, he was never scared of facing any team, whether it was batting or bowling. He bats well too, mind you,” said Ashish. 

Our spin duo has been acing it in the middle overs (7-15 overs), picking up 18 wickets between themselves. Overall, they aggregate for 28 wickets so far in TATA IPL 2023 at a strike rate of 14.2, which is the best for any spin department in this season. 

Gujarat Titans will be in action next against Lucknow Super Giants on May 7 at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

Image Credit: SPORTZPICS