Rawalpindi continues to be production line for fast bowlers
Abu Dhabi: The way Pakistan is producing fast bowlers it is not going to be the end of the line for a Rawalpindi Express.
Shoaib Akhtar, the ‘Rawalpindi Express,' has quit. But even as Junaid Khan announced his arrival on the international scene with a 5-38 haul on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, back in Pakistan's domestic cricket Sadaf Hussain bagged 9 for 37.
Only 21, Hussain reportedly stands 6ft3in, and already has one of the most impressive first class bowling averages in Pakistan at around 17.00.
Playing in his 20th first class match for Rawalpindi against Habib Bank Limited in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Hussain picked up 9 for 37 in 15.4 overs and has now crossed the 100 wicket mark.
Seven of Hussain's nine victims were either bowled or lbw victims and the lad has already caught the eye of the national selectors having been roped in as a replacement for Aizaz Cheema for the limited-overs' leg of Pakistan's recent tour of West Indies — but he was not played.
A new express?
While Wasim Akram and Waqar Yunus hunted as a pair and became the role model for many aspiring youngsters in Pakistan, Sadaf is another left-arm paceman like Junaid Khan who rocked Sri Lanka with a blistering spell.
Sadaf hails from Chakwal near Rawalpindi and could emerge as the ‘New Rawalpindi Express' to continue the long tradition of Pakistan's production of fast bowlers.
Speaking to Gulf News yesterday, Rameez Raja, the former Test skipper and current commentator, said: "It is good news for Pakistan. I have been very impressed with Junaid Khan yesterday. He comes across as somebody who knows how to bowl which is a great asset. Sadaf [Hussain], I saw him briefly during the nets in West Indies. He made the tour on the back of some good domestic performances."
"Pakistan's progress in a way could be related to the fact that they have strong bench strength. When Umar Gul was not available Pakistan got someone like Wahab Riaz. Pakistan always has ready replacements and that is a healthy sign," Raja said.
"Obviously to be left arm it gives one an advantage with that angle. He is not very fast, medium pace but if he is picking wickets then he knows the right length to bowl, which areas to target."
Raja felt it was a good time for the young paceman to be knocking for a Test berth.
"It is a good period for some of the younger players to come to the dressing room. Right now there is a healthy environment and only merit is the criteria. You will get in only on the basis of your performance. Right now everybody is contributing to win matches," he said.