Do you believe in magic?
Magicians have beguiled their audiences by creating illusions of the impossible; Magic allows you to experience the impossible. The conflict created between the things you think can happen and the things that you experience is magic.
One of the most storied venues in India, Eden Gardens, is no a strange stage where performers have come and showcased their trickery.
On Friday in Kolkata, in an all-or-nothing fixture, it was cricket's fastest rising star Rashid Khan's chance to dazzle with his touch of magic.
In the second qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) should have won the game, especially after reducing their opponents Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to 138/7 in 18.1 overs. However, Rashid wielded his wand (bat) and 'abracadabra' SRH score changes to 174/7 in a blink of an eye, that is in a space of 11 balls.
In a must-win contest, Sunrisers made three changes to their playing XI. The decision included dropping their costliest buy Manish Pandey and at the same time handing a 20-year old, Khaleel Ahmed, his debut cap.
While the decision from Sunrisers may seem bold, however, the real bravado came from the sensational Rashid, who lugged his side into the finals.
It was a day when whatever Rashid touched turned to gold for the Orange Army. The Afghan put in another startling performance to bail Sunrisers out, first with his exceptional batting, then in the field with an important run-out before taking three wickets with the ball. And if it wasn't enough, he held on to two pressure catches towards the end as well. Rashid enjoyed a dream night that saw him excel in all three departments that scripted the win for Sunrisers.
Having made a case on how Sunrisers could have batted Rashid higher up the order in the previous game, the 19-year old made full use of the opportunity he got in the second qualifier. After Carlos Brathwaite was run out off the penultimate delivery of the 18th over, Rashid came in at 134 for the loss of six wickets and top-edged his first ball to the boundary.
What followed next was crash, bang and wallop!
Will this be enough for a place in the FINAL?
— FirstCricket (@FirstCric) May 25, 2018
Rashid surged to 34 off just 10 balls, his highest T20 score, including a flick over long leg for six that drew comparisons with none but Sir Vivian Richards himself. Rashid’s quickfire innings made up for the constantly underperforming Sunrisers middle-order. His breathtaking innings lifted team’s morale and the score to 174.
Despite a competitive total on board by SRH. KKR were making light work in pursuit, going at over 11 runs an over in the power play. Chris Lynn and Nitish Rana both looked comfortable in the middle until another moment sparked SRH back into the tie. An accurate throw by Rashid from deep midwicket caught Rana centimeters short of his crease.
His spellbinding effort with the ball claiming 3 for 19, including the crucial wickets of Chris Lynn and Andre Russell put the game beyond KKR.
If those two wickets weren’t enough for a win, the two catches by Rashid in the final over surely put a stamp on Sunrisers’ ticket to the finals, their second in three years.
Sunrisers have been dependent on collective efforts to register victories, although they rode on the individual brilliance of Rashid to set their fourth date with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in this edition.
The only team that Sunrisers haven't been able to knock down this IPL has been CSK, losing all the previous three encounters, the latest of which was on Tuesday, but isn't magic all about creating an illusion of the impossible?