As the months gradually drift by, the World T20 looms ever so close. It’s been a while the cricketing fraternity has had a festival of that grandeur and it’s only fair that it allures most of the Cricket world’s focus this year. One of the teams that have really nourished and bolstered in the format and are, in fact, reigning the current rankings too is currently in the midst of a tedious transitory state.
Pakistan have been one of the bravados of T20 Cricket ever since the format’s dawn. You talk about the Afridis, the Ajmals, the Guls, the Maliks, even the Misbahs of the late Noughties. Their T20 history is lidded with starboys and national darlings, taking the world with storm in one era or another. This time around, however, with the World T20 drawing closer, the Greenshirts look ill-equipped and ill-prepared than they have hardly been before.
Despite that, there are a few bright spots, a slight glimmer of hope as potential T20 stars stir up from the domestic set up and seethe out in front of everyone. In this piece, we shine some light over three pacers, embellished with the Pakistani-esque legacy of fast-bowling, who can get a ticket to Australia for the upcoming mega-event. Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz are the obvious mainstays but it’s one of these unexploited pacers who could give Pakistan the real x-factor throughout their campaign.
Muhammad Musa Khan is one of the teenage sensations that recently materialized out of Pakistan Cricket’s set up. The 19-year old has had a terrific run in the domestic circuit and deservingly earned his maiden call-up to the international set up for Pakistan’s tour of Australia, two months back. Although he had a silent tour Down Under where he couldn’t reap as many rewards as he would have liked, the right-arm pacer is perceived as a future star in the making.
Gifted with raw pace generated through a round armed, slingy action, Musa can spice it up to 145 k’s. He has already made a name for himself in the international arena when he showcased his abilities during the U-19 World Cup in 2018.
Musa made his first-class debut last year and has been on the rise ever since, turning heads with his sharp pace and his bowling mind that resembles the more mature cricketers. He also featured in the Pakistan Super League’s previous edition for Islamabad United where his sheer talent and sublime disguising techniques were immediately spotted. His addition into the T20I squad will bring an exhilarating touch to the Greenshirts’ campaign during the World Cup and he has the ability to take up the gargantuan challenge that may lie ahead for him.
Naseem Shah is the newest pace prodigy coming out of the habitat of fast bowlers that Pakistan keep churning out from absolute wilderness. The 16-year old, who is yet to complete his schooling and has only featured in ten first-class games, received a maiden call-up to the national Test squad in late 2019 for Pakistan’s tour of Australia, owing to his exceptional talent.
Shah, the teenage tearaway, models his bowling on New Zealand’s legendary paceman, Shane Bond. He has wowed crowds with his ability to generate serious pace and swing it late on those clicks. Naseem represented Pakistan Under-19 team on their tour of South Africa in June last year. But it was his sparkling display of fast-bowling in Pakistan’s domestic circuits that had the experts and fans speak of Shah with much enthusiasm.
Shah was also picked up by Quetta Gladiators during last year’s PSL but had sit out due to an extended injury. He now gears up for this year’s edition in far better shape and a bit of sporting macho backing him. Shah has featured in three Tests for Pakistan and has already added a five-wicket haul in his account. He has had the batters skipping, hopping, and jumping around. Shah is already seen as a torchbearer for the next generation of Pakistani pacers and could prove to be a handful in this new-look team in the World Cup this year.
Haris Rauf’s road to stardom is nothing short of a fairytale. The very fact that he had no goals of representing Pakistan and hadn’t thought of Cricket as a professional career just three years ago is incredible. He now finds himself rocking the Australian newspapers as his golden run in the Big Bash League continues and he prepares for the final push for a maiden call-up in the national set up.
He was discovered by the PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars in open trials three years ago and took 11 wickets in 10 games in the 2019 edition. Seeing his remarkable talent and his ability to notch up quite a bit of extra zip, Lahore Qalandars sent him to Australia to attend the trials for Hobart Hurricanes and secure a Big Bash contract. But it was the Melbourne Stars led by the flamboyant Glenn Maxwell who ended up roping in the 26-year old pacer for BBL 09.
Since then, the tearaway Pakistani bowler hasn’t looked back. Bowling with relentless pace and belligerence and taking a handful of scalps, he has shifted the limelight to himself. Rauf is amongst the leading wicket-takers in this year’s competition, bagging a sizzling five wicket-haul in one of the games. He also became the first Melbourne Stars bowler to pluck out a hat-trick in BBL history, wreaking havoc on Sydney Thunder in the process. Given his T20 exploits and his experience playing Down Under, Rauf has made a strong case for himself to be considered for the World T20. And there’s no doubt that he can light up the international arena, too.