Shaheen, Naseem and Haris - the pace threat awaiting the Indian team
India and Pakistan will lock horns against each other in a high-octane clash in Kandy on Saturday (September 2). There are some high-quality players in both squads, and some quality cricket is expected from both sides. There will be several mini-battles taking place within the game, which are likely to make this encounter more spicy.
It's going to be an intense game, and all eyes will be on how the Indian batters fare against Pakistan's pace trio. It's a tough challenge, as Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf are all talented and skilled in their own ways. The big question is, who will come out on top and cause the most trouble for the Indian team? Let’s find out.
Since 2022, Shaheen Shah Afridi has the best bowling average (23.08) against the top 10 ODI sides, followed by Haris Rauf (23.43) and Naseem Shah (28.20). In terms of the economy rate, Naseem Shah (4.38) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (4.39) are almost identical, while Haris Rauf (6.73) has been expensive. Overall, Shaheen has been better than the other two against the best nations.
While digging deep, the picture becomes clearer. Since 2022, Haris Rauf has scalped 68.75% of his total wickets against the top six batting position at a strike rate of 30.54. Shaheen Shah Afridi has 64% of wickets at 29.68 balls apiece, while Naseem Shah has 57.69% while striking at every 30.06 ball.
While Haris has the highest % of top-six wickets, Shaheen again stands out in terms of strike rate. It can be difficult to determine which one would be the best choice without further information or testing.
The batting order of the Indian team will be RHB-heavy, with five of the first six batters expected to be the right-handers. Since 2022, Shaheen Shah Afridi has 80% of total scalps against the RHBs - the highest among the three pacers - at an average of 18.75. Haris Rauf (75%), at an average of 22.41, and Naseem Shah (65.38%), at a fantastic average of 17.05, are second and third on the list.
The superior bowling strike rate of Shaheen Afridi (22.60) depicts that he has been really good against the right-handers. However, Naseem is also going neck-to-neck with the left-arm pacer.
The conditions are also going to play a massive role in this game, and if the weather report is to be believed, the probability of rain is as high as 80% during the match hours. Hence, the new ball will swing a lot more, making life arduous for the batters.
Since 2022, Naseem Shah has been the best powerplay bowler for Pakistan in the ODIs. He has 9 wickets at an average of 20.22 and a strike rate of 30.67 in the first 10 overs in this timeframe. Notably, Naseem’s economy rate of 3.96 has also been top-notch. Shaheen Shah Afridi has 8 wickets at an average of 27.75 and a strike rate of 37.50, whereas Haris Rauf also has 8 dismissals at 30.38 runs apiece and 40.50 balls apiece.
Haris has been more effective against the RHBs, with 7 of his eight wickets coming against them. Shaheen (6) and Naseem (5) are slightly behind Rauf. Overall, Naseem has been the standout powerplay pacer for the Men in Green.
Below is a table of the Indian batters against this pace trio, which shows the number of dismissals. Shaheen has dismissed the two premium batters - Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, while Haris has also troubled Rohit Sharma as visible.
The table below shows the performance of the Indian batters against different types of pacers. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav have been below-par against the left-arm pacers. Since 2022, Rohit Sharma has been dismissed four times and averages a mere 17.75 against the left-arm pacers in the ODIs. Notably, three of them have come in the powerplay itself. Rohit Sharma has adopted an aggressive approach early in the innings in the last year or so. For a change, the Indian skipper should be cautious while being positive against Shaheen Afridi.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli has been dismissed thrice and averages 26.66 against the left-armers in the ODIs in this period. Kohli has worked on not throwing his front foot across, but he has still erred at times. To escape Shaheen Shah, Virat will need to be precise with his foot movement.
Shreyas Iyer and Hardik Pandya have been troubled by the express pace, and their weakness has been lucid. Pakistan have the bowlers to exploit it again in this high-voltage clash.
To conclude, Shaheen Shah Afridi will again be the biggest threat to the Men in Blue, while Naseem Shah’s superior record with the new ball will block the breathing space further. Later, the express pace of Haris Rauf will be handy against the middle-order batters.
The Indian batters should play positively and avoid being tentative. The set batters will definitely have a better opportunity to counter the pace battery.