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 at the post-match presentation ceremony last night.
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.
Ghani went on to describe Rashid Khan as "an asset to the cricketing world" and asserted that he belongs to Afghanistan.
"Rashid reminds us whats best about Afg (sic). He remains an asset to the cricketing world. No, we are not giving him away," president said.
Rashid produced a stunning all-round effort as Sunrisers Hyderabad defeated Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
The world's number one ranked T20 bowler smashed a crucial 34 not-out off just 10 balls and returned with figures of three for 19 in a brilliant all-round performance.
On his performance, he added, "It was much-needed for me, wanted to give my 100 percent in all departments."
"Focus was to just believe in my skills. I was happy with the batting, it was needed in the end. I started my career as a batsman, I believe in my skills and wanted to finish off well.
"I just tried to pick the lengths, the focus was to play straight. That was the plan from the senior players. Fielding is one department where you can't make excuses, compared to last year, I've worked really hard in my fielding.
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