Thunderstorm! Tsunami! Tornado! All these are natural disasters but are nothing more disastrous than the talent of fast bowling Pakistan has got. Since cricket opened its eyes in Pakistan, the nation has been very good at producing such talented seamers that blessed not just Pakistan Cricket but they have been a blessing for the cricketing world. Let’s have a look at what Pakistan have given to the world in shape of Pace.
Fazal Mahmood, the best all-rounder Pakistan has ever produced and probably one of the best the world could ever witness.
He went on to represent Pakistan in 34 test matches, taking 139 wickets at an outstanding average of 24.70. He became the first Pakistani to get 100 Test wickets in just 22 matches. He took 10 wickets on four occasions that too against India, England and Australia. These were the maiden victories of Pakistan over these nations.
Fazal’s greatness lies in the fact that he was once called better than the great Dennis Lille.
Pakistan’s first ever deadly duo of pacers were Sarfraz Nawaz and the very furious Imran Khan. Nawaz’s one delivery of reverse swing could disable a batter from getting a good night sleep for months.
Sarfraz Nawaz played his first international match against the Englishmen in the Test format. The 20 year old Sarfraz couldn’t get a wicket, didn’t bat and was dropped for three long years. He made a comeback in 1972, he grabbed 4 wickets in both innings against Australia.
Sarfraz Nawaz, known as the inventor of Reverse Swing went on to represent Pakistan in 55 Tests and 45 ODI, taking 177 wickets in Tests, with 4 five-wicket hauls in an innings, a 10 wicket-haul in a match, with the best of 9-86, at an average of 32.75. In ODIs, he had 63 wickets, with the best of 4-27 at an average of 23.22.
Imran Khan, the 1992 world cup winning captain, was an all-rounder. His bowling was his strength to win matches for Pakistan. He is the third in line of Pakistan’s fast bowling royalty, just after the great Fazal Mahmood and Sarfraz Nawaz.
Fire would be bursting out from his eyes and that was enough to give the batsmen a deadly nightmare and get him out. Imran once quoted that “The more the pressure, The Stronger I Got.”
A speed test was held at Perth in 1978, where he came third behind Jeff Thomson and the legendary Sir Michael Holding.
Imran Khan represented his country in 88 Tests and 175 ODIs, getting 362 wickets, with 23 five-wicket hauls, at an average of 22.81 in Tests. In ODIs his stats are just too good, grabbing 182 wickets, at an average of 26.61, with one fifer.
Wasim Akram is highly acknowledged as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He was a left arm fast bowler, who could bowl with significant pace. Akram is considered to be as one of the founders and perhaps the finest exponent of Reverse swing. He was the first bowler to get to 500 ODI wickets during the 2003 CWC. His talent and skill was noted by Imran Khan and that earned him a place in PCT.
Akram, on 30th September 2009, was awarded ICC hall of fame award, he was one of the five new members of the hall of fame.
He played 104 tests and 356 ODIs. In tests he got 414 wickets, 25 five-wicket hauls and 5 10 wicket-hauls at an average of 23.62. In ODIs 502 wickets, 6 five wicket-hauls at an average of 23.52.
A right-arm fast bowler, Waqar is regarded as one of the greatest and fastest bowlers of all time. His toe crushing Yorkers could disable the batter from standing up again. His trademark was reverse swinging the ball with fastest speed. He could ruin the batting line up of any team in no time with his captain Wasim Akram. This duo is regarded as the deadliest duo of cricket history. Waqar has the best strike rate, second to Dale Steyn with over 350 Test wickets.
Waqar represented Pakistan in 87 test matches, achieving 373 wickets, 22 five-wicket hauls, 5 ten-wicket hauls at an average of just 23.56. He also played 262 ODIs, took 416 wickets, 13 five-wicket hauls (most by any bowler in ODI cricket), at an average of 23.84.
Imran Khan once stated that:
“Waqar was a very strong bowler, not as gifted as Wasim but much stronger physically. Mentally Waqar was very tough. Wasim would give up a little bit when things got down; Waqar would keep coming back.”
Regarded as one of the best fast bowlers to play the game of cricket, Akhtar is the fastest bowler in history of cricket, he bowled the fastest delivery of cricket ever, 161.3 kmh. Akhtar is nicknamed as “Rawalpindi Express”, as a tribute to his hometown and speed. He is the first bowler to break the 100 mph barrier, which he did twice in his career. Who can forget when he bowled out Sachin Tendulkar on a duck in Eden Gardens and the whole crowd went silent because the God of Cricket was gone without scoring.
Rawalpindi Express played all three formats of the game. He played 46 Test, taking 178 wickets, 12 five-wicket hauls, and 2 ten-wicket hauls, at an average of 25.69. In ODIs he played 163 matches, taking 247 wickets, 4 five-wicket hauls at an average of 24.97. He also represented Pakistan in 15 T20s, grabbing 19 wickets to his name, at an average of 22.73.
Nicknamed “Guldozer”, Umar Gul was never admired by his people too much. But his skill and services cannot be denied. The world acknowledged him as one of the greatest fast bowlers Pakistan has ever produced. He is the first bowler to take a five-wicket haul in T20i, he has a total of 2 fifers in T20. Till today it is the most in T20i.
He has gained fame in T20i by ending up as the leading wicket taker in the 2007 and 2009 editions of ICC world T20 world cups. He is the second highest bowler with t20i wickets (74) only behind Saeed Ajmal. Gul also won the ICC T20 player of the year 2013.
Gul played 47 Tests, 163 wickets, 4 five-wicket hauls, at an average of 34.06. He played 130 ODIs, 179 wickets, 2 five-wicket hauls, at an average of 29.34. He played 60 matches, in his favorite format, T20, taking 85 wickets, 2 five-wicket hauls at an average of 16.97.
Ruined by the infection of Spot fixing, Mohammad Asif was a nightmare for every batter. If Asif would concede a six, the batsmen who hitted him a six would be gone the next ball and Asif would give him screams every time he faced that batsmen. He was ruthless, probably more ruthless than Waqar or Shoaib. On 20 July 2010, he was ranked second in Test ranking just behind Dale Steyn. Lancashire chairman once quoted the ability and skill of Asif by saying “A bowler with the ability and skill to generate great pace”
Due to his ban, he could not play too much cricket, but whatever he did was worth watching and admiring. He played 22 Tests, taking 105 Test wickets, 7 five-wicket hauls, 1 ten-wicket hauls, at an average of 23.18. He played 38 ODIs, 46 wickets at an average of 33.13. In T20s he played 11 matches, took 13 wickets at an average of 26.38.
Mohammad Amir, the best example of falling down and rising up in no time. A left-arm fast bowler, acknowledged as Wasim Akram of this era, Amir can bowl up to the speed of 140-145 kmh. Just like Mohammad Asif, Amir faced a ban of five hears due to some spot fixing allegations. Amir returned back to cricket in 2015 against New Zealand and the whole Pakistan gave him a heartwarming welcome.
Since his comeback, Amir was out of form, leaking runs, bowling bad deliveries and his variations were not too good. But it was against India in the all-important match, in a finale, Amir proved the world wrong again by picking up 3 important wickets of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. This performance of him is considered his best performance of all time.
Amir has a distinction of most no. of test matches without taking a catch. He also holds the record of being the only bowler to get 5 wickets in an over (1 caught, 2 bowled out, 2 run-outs) against Australia in 2010 in a T20 match. This was the only time when five wickets have fallen in an over of an international match.
He has played 22 tests, taking 95 wickets, 4 five-wicket hauls, at an average of 31.47. Represented Pakistan in 36 ODIs and 231 T20i, taking 55 wickets at an average of 27.41, In Odis. In T20i he has taken 34 wickets at an average of 23.79.
Amir is very admired by his idol Wasim Akram. Wasim Akram once said that Amir is much clever than him at the age of 18.
A left-arm fast bowler, Junaid is the first cricketer to qualify for the PCT from his region, Swabi. Junaid was called up for the National Team when Sohail Tanvir was injured during the 2011 WC. He didn’t played a match in the tournament.
He modelled his bowling action on that of Wasim Akram. Khan believes that he bowls up to the speed of 140 to 142 kmh (87 to 88 mph). He has the ability to swing the ball away and into the batsmen. According to Khan, during his contract with Lancashire, he learned how to ball a Yorker and how to use seam and swing. Junaid Khan is very dangerous on the pitches of England and Australia due to extra bounce and his record is much better in these countries.
He has represented Pakistan in 22 Tests, 65 ODIs, and 9 T20i, Khan in Tests has taken 71 wickets, 5 five-wicket hauls at an average of 31.73. In ODIs he took 96 wickets at an average of 28.38. He has taken 8 wickets in T20s at an average of 29.50.
Junaid Khan’s most acknowledged performance was against India in the 1st ODI when Pakistan was touring India. He grabbed 4 wickets, these were the important wickets of Virendar Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma, four run machines of India.
A right-arm-medium-fast bowler, Hassan Ali made his debut against Ireland in 2016. Hassan Ali came in to notice when PSL franchise, Peshawar Zalmi recruited him from the emerging category. It was then when the world witnessed one of the best fast bowlers of this time.
He took his first five-wicket haul against the mighty Australians. He was then called up when Pakistan was touring West Indies and made his Test debut in the third and last Test.
In June 2017, Hassan Ali went to England along with PCT for the ICC Champions Trophy. That tournament changed the fate of Hassan Ali and Pakistan finally got what it was looking for years, a genuine fast bowler like Waqar Younis who could give nightmares to the opponent.
Hassan Ali took 13 wickets in the tournament, 1 against India in the opening match, 3 against South Africa, 3 against Sri Lanka, 3 in the Semi Final against England and 3 in the all-important match, the grand finale against the arch rivals India. He was given the Golden Ball Award and was named man of the tournament (the first bowler to do so).
Hassan Ali now ranks as the world no.1 ODI bowler according to ICC rankings. He is the second Pakistani fast bowler to get there after the legendary Wasim Akram. Hassan Ali is also the fastest Pakistani to get to 50 ODI wickets after the great Waqar Younis.
Hassan has played 2 test, 25 ODIs and 9 T20i, taking 6 wickets in test with the average of 27.33. He has taken 54 wickets in ODIs at an average of 20.20, with 3 five-wicket hauls. In T20i he has taken 12 wickets at an average of 22.41.
This was just an overview of Pakistan’s fast bowling over the years. Pakistan has been very good at producing talented fast bowlers. Likes of Rumman Raees, Usman Khan Shinwari and many others are still in process of utilization. And the world knows it too and accepts the fact that Pakistan is the land of world’s best fast bowlers. Voice of India, Tavi Shastri once quoted that:
“They shake a tree in Pakistan and talented fast bowlers fall like leaves.”