The Yorkshire leg-spinner has provided England’s limited-overs attack with another dimension since making an eye-catching return to international cricket over the last 12 months.
He enters the tournament, which starts for England against West Indies in Mumbai today, in high spirits following two impressive warm-up displays which saw him take 3-15 against New Zealand and 2-33 versus his own England team-mates while representing a Mumbai XI.
And Rashid’s ability to move the ball both ways on turning sub-continent pitches is why Swann believes he will play a key role in England’s campaign.
“Spin is king in India and the Yorkshire wrist-spinner’s ability to turn the ball both ways will be England’s most lethal weapon,” Swann, who made 178 appearances for England, wrote in his column in The Sun.
“Rashid and his big mate Moeen Ali must apply a squeeze in those middle overs and, even more importantly, take some wickets. There is no better way of suffocating the scoring rate than taking wickets.
“We have seen already that Rashid is the key man. He took 3-15 in England’s opening warm-up match win over New Zealand on Saturday and dismissed Jason Roy and Alex Hales in his first two overs when he played for a Mumbai XI against England on Monday.”
Rashid proved his Twenty20 credentials with a superb spell with Adelaide Strikers at the Big Bash League in Australia.
Linking up with his Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie, the 28-year-old finished second in the wicket-taking standings with 16 at an average of 14.12.
Also with an economy rate of 6.51 in nine matches, Rashid justified England’s decision to send him Down Under rather than travel to South Africa with the Test squad.
Brilliant stuff from @AdilRashid03 today. Could he be the surprise man of the tournament and take England all the way? Why not!
— Graeme Swann (@Swannyg66) March 12, 2016
“I am a big fan of Rashid,” Swann added. “I know he had some tough times when he played three Tests against Pakistan in the UAE late last year but I believe he has the ability to be effective at Test level.
“And Twenty20 is a different proposition. In Test cricket, batsmen can sit and wait for the loose ball. But in T20, they have to force the pace and that means going hard at the likes of Rashid.
“His skill at bowling both leg-spinners and googlies with little discernible change in action causes batsmen all sorts of problems. They are charging down the pitch not certain which way the ball will turn.
“He continues to grow in stature as a one-day bowler. I love the fact that he went and played for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash this winter and did really well. That will fill him with confidence.
“He goes into the tournament knowing he can restrict good players and also get them out.”