Mohali: Afghanistan's leg-spinner Rashid Khan says the entire country watches Indian Premier League and the support of the people back home gives him energy to perform better in the cash-rich T20 tournament.
The 18-year-old Rashid returned with impressive figures of 4-0-16-1 to help his side Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Kings XI Punjab by 26 runs here.
"The whole of Afghanistan is watching this league. The way they are supporting us both, me and (Mohammed) Nabi, it is just amazing. The prayers of our people back home help me and whenever we have a game, they all pray for us," Rashid told reporters last night after the match.
"Their back up, their support really helps me and gives me energy," said Rashid, who hails from Nangarhar province in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Rashid has impressed one and all as he not only has been among the wickets but also putting brakes on the opposition run flow. Asked what does his performance mean for Afghan cricket, he said, "It means a lot to them because coming to this stage and performing here is a very positive message for the people of Afghanistan."
He said the message to the youngsters back home was "to work hard, do your best and you will achieve for which you have set your foot for".
"It is my message for youngsters of Afghanistan to work hard. It does not matter whether you are from Associate or other team, just do your best, you will get your achievements."
Talking about the experience of his maiden appearance in the IPL so far, Rashid said, "Actually, most of the pitches in Asia, they are good for spinners. I have been working a lot with my coaches, especially Muttiah Muralitharan, he is the best spinner in the world. He has been helping and giving me all the confidence to just go out there and give my best."
Asked how much of the experience gained in IPL will help him in Test and one-dayers, Rashid said, "It makes a big difference. Playing in IPL alongside some of the big names and big coaches and getting their experience will help me a lot. I am just trying my best to get their experiences to do my best. In future, I will work hard for longer format games. Mentally I am preparing myself for that."
"I am trying my best to do 100 per cent and follow what the team requirement is," he said.