Kolkata: Rashid Khan, in his hour of glory, remembered those killed in a recent blast during a cricket match in his home town, even as Indian cricket fans and his country's first citizen indulged in some good-natured banter over his citizenship.
The 19-year-old man of the moment dedicated his match-winning performance in the IPL's second qualifier to those who lost their lives in his native - the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. "I want to dedicate this award to those who lost their lives in a blast during a cricket game in my hometown," Rashid said.
The leg-spinner's stellar all-round performance lifted Sunrisers Hyderabad to a 14-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders, and into the final of the Indian Premier League's 11st edition, where they will face Chennai Super Kings. Rashid received high praise from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, who described him as the "best T20 spinner in the world", while Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani called him a hero.
So impressed were the Indian cricket lovers that they wondered on the social media if Rashid could be given an Indian citizenship and allowed to play for India. In his response, the Afghan president tweeted, "Afghans take absolute pride in our hero, Rashid Khan. I am also thankful to our Indian friends for giving our players a platform to show their skills.”