The beauty of Rashid Khan’s bowling. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. The above phrase from John Keats’ Endymion is probably the only way to describe the beauty of Rashid Khan’s bowling. You can’t help but glue your eyes to the television set when he has the ball in hand. Everything he does with the ball and with the subtle movement of his wrist and fingers is beauty personified.

In fact, it is not Rashid Khan whom we remember after a certain period of time, it is actually the beauty of the things he does—starting right from his delivery stride to his celebrations after getting wickets—that leave a long lasting impression on us.

September 20 was supposed to be another such day when the world would stop once more to witness Khan’s magic. And indeed we saw a wizard landing hard and telling blows on the opposition.

Afghanistan was gearing up to face Bangladesh but the importance of the contest had reduced significantly. After all, it was a dead rubber in the context of the tournament. However, this particular day was a significant one for Rashid in itself. It was his birthday. Besides his own family, wishes had poured in from all over the world, from fans, pundits, teammates and from his competitors on the field. He now had the chance to make the day far more special with another splendid spell of bowling in their match against Bangladesh. It was the return gift his fans were waiting for.

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However, what people got in return was something else. Afghanistan were in trouble as Bangladesh had reduced them to 160/7 in the 41st over. But once Rashid Khan walked out to bat at No. 9, things changed completely.

He began by confidently getting off the mark on the very first delivery with a single down the ground. The first sign of aggression was visible a couple of overs later when he swept Shakib-Al-Hasan for a boundary, following it up with a four and a six off Rubel Hossain in the succeeding overs.

His partner Gulbadin Naib, at the other end, had also got into the act and Bangladesh started feeling the heat. The momentum of the game shifted completely towards Afghanistan and they were on top soon. Meanwhile Khan kept going and smashed each and every bowler to almost every corner of the ground.

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In the last over of the innings he smashed Bangladeshi captain Mashrafe Mortaza for four boundaries. A fierce pull over fine leg was followed by a hoik over square leg for another boundary. This brought up his fifty, in just 29 deliveries.

Next, he squeezed a couple of runs off a good yorker length delivery, followed by a perfectly timed slice over point for another boundary. And he finished with another boundary to remain unbeaten on 57 off just 32 deliveries in a partnership of 95 off 55 with Naib. He scored 47 runs in the last 18 deliveries he faced.

It was a storm that blew Bangladesh away. But there was beauty in it. It was destructive yet mesmerising. It was not the Rashid Khan we get to see every day. His 34 runs off just 10 deliveries in the second qualifier of the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad this year was one such innings we witnessed. We don’t often get to watch him ply his art with the bat. When he does, he leaves us all awestruck.

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Now it was time for the magician to take over with the ball. Brought on in the middle of the innings, he unleashed one beauty of a delivery after another. Each of his deliveries was a riddle to the batsman and they had no clue how to solve it. A well settled Shakib Al-Hasan and even Mahmudullah couldn’t handle him, he was too good for them. It was a tough day for Bangladesh but believe it or not, it was just a regular day for Khan.

He finished with figures of 9-2-13-2.

The result was a 156-run victory for Afghanistan. And it was Rashid Khan who made it possible. He treated everyone to a fabulous performance. There was beauty, there was power and nobody could have asked for anything more on his 20th birthday. #KhabarLive