Haris Rauf lits up Lahore with his pace again
It’s not easy to be Haris Rauf in a team consisting of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah. He has to do the arduous part - bowling as a one-change bowler instead of getting the new ball, and more importantly, Rauf, despite being the fastest bowler, still doesn’t get ample appreciation at times. Still, Rauf steams in with the same intensity in every game and gets the job done for his team with a beaming smile and a motivation to win the games for his nation.
On Wednesday (September 6), Haris Rauf put on another Haris Rauf show to guide his team to a comfortable victory at his favourite venue. He was fast, accurate and threatening to the core. Bangladesh were clearly unprepared for it, and you can’t blame them, either.
Haris came into the attack in the eighth over of the innings and started cranking up right away. His first delivery was on the back of the length at 138 km/h to Shakib Al Hasan. On a flat deck, where the ball was coming nicely on the bat, and the outfield was lightning-quick, Haris’ plans were clear and fruitful straightaway. Given the number of matches he has played here, it wasn’t surprising, either.
On just the third ball of his spell, Rauf stifled Mohammad Naim, looking in sublime touch, with the hard length delivery at 140kph to complete his 50th ODI dismissal. He also completed the catch himself to do everything on his own for his special milestone. Rauf’s pace was clearly quicker than Naim anticipated, as he was late in his shot.
That’s his skill - he is fast, and his ball jags off the length to hurry the strikers, a complete nightmare for most sub-continent batters. He was just warming up; the best was yet to come.
After troubling Towhid Hridoy with his immaculate lengths and sheer pace in the previous over, Rauf knew Hridoy was waiting for the short stuff. Rauf smartly altered his length and bowled a slightly fuller one, with an inward angle, to lure Hridoy at 145kph. As planned, the young batter went for a flick only to get beaten by the pace and the slight movement of the ball to see his stumps getting rattled. Rauf wasn’t only fast; he was prudent and proactive, too.
His remaining five balls to Mushfiqur Rahim had speeds reading: 142kph, 147kph, 147kph, 144kph & 146kph. In his next over, all his deliveries, barring one (144 km/h), were 145kph or above. He was literally proving Pakistan’s favourite slogan, ‘Pace is pace yaar’.
Remember, it wasn’t easy to be on the field in the scorching Lahore heat. Naseem Shah had just faced the wrath, and the spectators had their juices in their hands in the afternoon. But Haris Rauf is built differently.
After a break, Haris Rauf returned in the 22nd over and was bang on target again. His two-over spell troubled the most experienced Bangladesh batters - Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim.
As Haris returned for his third spell of the day, Mushfiqur Rahim was well-set on 64 and looked good to add more on a nice surface. But, as mentioned above, Haris Rauf does the tougher job for his team. He has expertise in breaking partnerships and dismissing the set batters. Rauf has done it time and again in his career across formats.
After bowling one into Rahim’s body, Rauf pitched the ball slightly fuller and made the ball seam away to produce an edge off Rahim’s bat. The bowler was again a foot ahead to change his length smartly, just like he did off Towhid Hridoy. According to the data posted by cricket.com, Mushfiqur played the highest % of false shots (16.6) off Rauf. He generated some late movement due to his extra pace to make life impossible for the opponent.
On the next ball, Rauf got the better of Taskin Ahmed, who was just another Bangladesh batter to get beaten by the speed of Haris Rauf. Expecting Taskin to survive when the main batters were clueless would have been unfair. This delivery again moved away after landing to generate an outside edge.
Haris Rauf ended with the figures 6-0-19-4, with almost every delivery over 140 km/h. While pace might not be everything, it still provides a pacer with that extra cushion. Haris Rauf has the pace, and he is accurate.
Whenever the famed pace trio plays together, it’s Haris Rauf who mostly turns out to be the best bowler. The tweet below also confirms it.
Shaheen has new ball skills, and Naseem is also making gradual progress. Both bowl with the new ball and get the most of the conditions early on. Both are highly skilled, and there is nothing to take away from them.
However, Rauf is an everything bowler for Pakistan. He can bowl in all the phases, dismiss the best opponent batters, and break the brewing partnerships before they become game-changing. In his ODI career, Rauf’s 67.92% of his wickets have been of the top-six batters. 28.30% of his scalps have been of the batters batting at 40 or above.
Haris Rauf became the joint third-fastest Pakistan bowler to 50 ODI wickets when he reached the landmark in just his 27th innings. He ran with the same intensity throughout the innings and ended up winning the Man of the Match award. The heatwave wasn’t the most fiery thing in Lahore last afternoon.