ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019

Plan Rashid: Aussies plot to stop spin star

Glenn Maxwell suggests restraint as Australia ponder how to overcome unpickable Afghan

Louis Cameron in Southampton

28 May 2019, 06:20 PM AEST

Maxwell to call on Big Bash experience

Glenn Maxwell is one of limited-overs cricket's best players of spin, but the allrounder says Australia might need to take their medicine to successfully counter the threat of spin wizard Rashid Khan in their World Cup opener against Afghanistan.

The Australians know Rashid perhaps better than any of Afghanistan's opponents, yet Maxwell admits the 20-year-old remains one of the few bowlers in world cricket who can make the best look downright silly.  

Even gloveman Alex Carey, who kept to him for two full KFC Big Bash seasons at Adelaide Strikers and faced him countless times in the nets, struggles to pick him at night time.

"At times I think I can (pick him)," Maxwell said of Rashid, who averages 16.02 in the BBL and holds the ODI record as the fastest man to 100 wickets. "He's very difficult. He is probably one of the more difficult ones (spinners) I've played against. 

"He and (West Indies finger-spinner Sunil) Narine are probably the two you go through stages where you think you are going to hold them and then they bowl a ball that beats you. 

"And you sit there shaking your head. 

"For me, I feel like I don't think I'm going to get out to him, but I don't feel like I'm going to score much off him. 

"It's about targeting other blokes and making sure I'm putting pressure on him to change his lengths and I felt like I did that against him during the Big Bash at different times. 

"I will be drawing on that experience a little bit. We've got a bit of footage to watch, but it's a different kettle of fish when you're actually facing him."

Rashid turns the game with two in two

Australia's batters will this week sit down to discuss how they intend to counter Rashid for their clash with Afghanistan in Bristol on Saturday.

And should they look closely at his numbers against each of them in the BBL and the IPL (none of Australia's batters have played against him in international 50-over cricket), they may decide Maxwell's cautious strategy against him has merit.

Data provided by Opta show Maxwell is one of only two batsmen in Australia's World Cup squad to have faced at least five balls from Rashid and not been dismissed by him.

From the 16 deliveries Rashid has bowled to Maxwell, the Victorian has scored 19 runs (a reasonably low strike-rate given he's only played him in T20 cricket), though he played a false shot to nearly a third of those balls. Shaun Marsh is the other batter to have successfully negated Rashid, managing 17 runs off 15 balls.

Rashid has had more success against Marcus Stoinis (who's gone out to the leggie twice in just 13 balls), Aaron Finch (dismissed twice in 23 balls) and Steve Smith (once in 22 balls).

Further backing up Maxwell's point about showing restraint is the fact he and Marsh have also been the least aggressive players against Rashid among Australia's World Cup batters. Marsh has attacked just 20 per cent of the balls Rashid has bowled to him and Maxwell 31 per cent.

Rashid bamboozles Bancroft with jaffa

On the other hand, the trio of Finch (who attacked 74 per cent of balls he’s faced off Rashid), Stoinis (54 per cent) and Smith (45 per cent) have been more cavalier. 

Left-hander Usman Khawaja has faced only three balls off Rashid, while Carey and David Warner (his teammate at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL) haven’t faced him in a match.

"I think just putting pressure on them to bring back the medium pace and faster bowlers might be the way we go," Maxwell continued.

"But once we have that batting meeting during the week guys will come out with certain plans. Guys might target him, I don't know."

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa has previously explained that Rashid’s greatest strength is his ability to hold the ball more loosely than other wrist-spinners, making it difficult for batters to decipher the difference between wrong'uns and leg-breaks.

"The reason he runs in so fast is because he's got really thick fingers and holds the ball right at the end (of his fingers)," Zampa explained. 

"I bowl it (with the ball) right in my palm, he bowls it right at the end. He's so hard to pick because he just uses the end of his fingers.

"I tried doing it but they were just slipping out. 

"I was like, 'this bloke is unbelievable'."

2019 World Cup

Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

May 22: (warm-up) Australia beat West Indies by seven wickets

May 25: (warm-up) Australia beat England by 12 runs

May 27: (warm-up) Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets

June 1: Afghanistan v Australia, Bristol (D/N)

June 6: Australia v West Indies, Trent Bridge

June 9: India v Australia, The Oval

June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton

June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval

June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge

June 25: England v Australia, Lord's

June 29: New Zealand v Australia, Lord's (D/N)

July 6: Australia v South Africa, Old Trafford (D/N)

July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford

July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston

July 14: Final, Lord's

For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE