Eoin Morgan’s London Spirit team are unbeaten. 4 out of 4 wins and steals.
That was until a world-class team presented them on Saturday night at Trent Bridge.
On a fame on the ground for big shots, Rashid Khan took three wickets as Trent Rockets overtook Spirit, successful by six wickets to become the first of the lads office.
It wasn’t just the wickets, but the version of the layoffs that thrilled the gang.
The leg spinner clearly beat Dan Lawrence, Kieron Pollard and Jordan Thompson as the Rockets beat Spirit for 122 – their game-low total – before the hosts chased the goal with ease.
“He’s a celebrity,” former England bowler Dominic Cork said of Sky Sports Activities. “The best way he plays, the way he plays.”
Rashid, one of the world’s most wanted franchise cricketers, discovered his trade as a refugee in Peshawar, Pakistan, after his family fled across the Afghan border following the US invasion.
He played with taped tennis balls against his brothers on concrete surfaces, but by the age of 17 he had made his world debut – and by 18 he was signed for Premier League glamor Indian.
Now 23, he remains a live wire, bringing power and relaxation to all the sports he plays, including Nottingham.
The hundred boys drifted at times that year, perhaps due to a series of mishaps with other players, but with Rashid in town it shone.
He first received the ball shortly after the power play – the first 25 balls in an inning. England Worldwide Lawrence charged the wicket and was cheated by Rashid. The stumps lit up.
Spirit captain Eoin Morgan – who hit 17 sixes against Rashid’s Afghanistan at the 2019 World Cup – confirmed his quality by taking control of the bowler and breaking him for two straight sixes.
It was a callback to Rashid’s only previous game in this year’s Hundred against Birmingham Phoenix, when Liam Livingstone launched a brutal attack and crushed him for three straight sixes.
Even the perfect can be shot down – but this time Rashid answered completely.
Morgan fell to fellow spinner Samit Patel and secured West Indies stardom Kieron Pollard. Rashid had 5 deliveries remaining and Rockets captain Lewis Gregory once again turned to his prized weapon – the well-balanced sport with Spirit 95-4 and 30 balls remaining.
With the first of his 5, Rashid made for Pollard, knocking the ball off the right hander and crashing into his stumps.
It was the pivotal moment and a great offer, but nevertheless Rashid was not finished.
With his last ball, Jordan Thompson was bowled around his legs.
“That’s what resilience looks like on this format. World-class bowling,” former England striker Ebony Rainford-Brent said of Sky Sports Activities.
“First there was an interval where he was being attacked by Morgan. There was a risk that he would fall, but he just came back again and again. It doesn’t matter if he will be pumped. It reset and came back here.
Speaking to BBC Sport, England and Birmingham Phoenix bowler Kirstie Gordon added: “He is so difficult to play. He is always modifying it and is always above the batter.
“He comes with that presence now.”
Unfortunately for the Rockets — and the game as a whole — Rashid’s presence won’t be felt in the game for another 12 months. He will miss the rest of the Hundred as he heads to the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates to play for his country.
But on a sunny evening in Nottingham, he gently recalled why he was first-choice in the first player draft for The Hundred and confirmed precisely why he is a joy to watch.
A world celebrity. A working attraction in the field. A catch of his trade.