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At pm local time, Rashid Khan marks out his run at the Adelaide Oval.

He is about to deliver his first ball in the Big Bash League: another landmark moment for Rashid in a year full of them.

A day earlier, Mohammad Nabi pipped Rashid to become the first ever Afghanistan cricketer to play in the Big Bash League.

That they have made it this far is a remarkable testament to their own talents and the power of sport to create opportunity.

Yet for the Adelaide Strikers and other T20 sides, all of this backstory is just that.

These sides deal in the hard currency of wins, not sentiment.

In February, some guffawed when Rashid cost Sunrisers Hyderabad $600,000. But coach Tom Moody and Sunrisers recognised a legspinner of wonderful verve and versatility - one who could be a strike bowler or bowl frugal spells, and could beat an opponent in the air or off the wicket, with prodigious turn or with chicanery. "The first year of the IPL gave Moody the answer: "he had that in spades." Empowered by his captain David Warner, Rashid was beguiling.

He was signed specifically to bowl in the middle overs, but is almost equally adept bowling in all three phases of a T20 game. In a tournament famed for leaving superstars marooned on the bench, Rashid instantly became undroppable, and the fulcrum of Sunrisers' attack. For the Adelaide Strikers, Rashid is not just a brilliant cricketer; he is a cricketer who gives them the flexibility to take advantage of the most fundamental tactical shift in T20 in recent years - the growing preference for batting second.

In 2011-12, only three out of 31 teams who won the toss in the BBL decided to chase.

Last year, 28 out of 35 teams who won the toss opted to bat second - and all seven of the sides who chose to bat first lost.

In the first three games of this season, all teams who won the toss chose to bowl first too.

So when Travis Head won the toss and chose to bat it seemed curious at best, bewildering at worst.