Strikers amazed at Rashid's resilience

"He's one of the best in the world at cricket and he's one of the best blokes I've ever played with," Carey told

None of Rashid's teammates would have begrudged him had he elected to sit out the New Year's Eve clash, the KFC Big Bash's biggest night of festivities, fireworks where a full-on concert featuring ABBA and Queen covers immediately followed the cricket.

But Rashid played, and, as is usually the case when that happens, the Adelaide Strikers won.

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The regard in which his teammates and the Strikers' faithful held him in might have swelled further, if that was possible.

More than 10,000 kilometres away from his home in Afghanistan and his nine siblings mourning the death of their father, Rashid has found support from his second "family". 

"He's fitted into our group amazingly over the last two seasons," Carey said of Rashid, who, it's understood, is yet to make a decision on whether he'll return to Afghanistan in the coming days.

"He's one of our brothers in the side, he's one of the best players in the world at cricket but just the person he is – I don't have high enough words (for him).

"He's just one of the best I've come across as a person.

"He was out signing autographs before the game, he fronted up tonight and played outstandingly."

Usually a boisterous ball of energy, Rashid cut a notably more subdued figure in the field after the Strikers had set the Sydney Thunder 176 to win. 

One of the biggest roars of the night from the excitable 41,987-strong crowd came when he was introduced to bowl the ninth over – a late entrance given he frequently bowls the toughest overs in the Power Play.

With the early fireworks booming behind the Bradman Pavilion and smoke filtering over the ground, Rashid's first two overs went for 19 - an uncommonly expensive start, due more to clever batting from Joe Root (18 off 11) and Callum Ferguson (47 off 39) and a miniscule 54-metre square boundary, than poor bowling.

Yet, as he did time and again to propel the Strikers to their maiden BBL title last season, he delivered when the side needed him.

The leg-spinner first completely deceived rookie Jason Sangha, who edged to slip, eschewing his trademark aeroplane celebration for just a flicker of a smile and a few hugs with his 'brothers'.

An unusual exchange with Ferguson followed after the Thunder batsman missed a sweep shot. Rashid's words perplexed Ferguson, but it showed the spinner had been sparked into the contest.

When Daniel Sams holed out for 15 off Rashid's next over, the game had been won.

It was Rashid's 96th T20 wicket of 2018, the most ever taken in a calendar year; an unfathomable haul from one of the modern game's most remarkable cricketers.

"I don't have enough words to describe what a bloke he is," Carey continued.

"He's played a fair bit of cricket here now and he's always got a big smile on his face which means a lot … with the crowd as well, he loves the energy.

"I'd like to think we've all welcomed him here in Adelaide into our family."

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