LAHORE: The HBL Pakistan Super League has been synonymous with high-quality fast bowling since its inception in 2016. A distinct feature of the league has been the domination of pacers with four of the five leading wicket-takers in the tournament’s history being fast bowlers.
Feeding into the depth of Pakistan’s pace bowling arsenal, the HBL PSL has produced some talented quicks including Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shahnawaz Dahani who have made a mark on the international stage.
PCB Digital spoke with Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz, as the fast bowlers discussed the mantra to success in T20 cricket, the bowling tactics deployed for different stages of an innings and the impact of HBL PSL on Pakistan’s fast bowling landscape. These interviews are available at the HBL PSL YouTube Channel.
Mohammad Amir – Karachi Kings
A longtime member of the Karachi Kings outfit, Amir was the first player to take a hat-trick in HBL PSL when he dismissed Lahore Qalandars’ Dwayne Bravo, Zohaib Khan and Kevon Cooper on successive balls in Dubai in 2016. He has taken 54 wickets and also bowled six maiden overs in his 59-match HBL PSL career, most for any bowler in the tournament.
“In T20 cricket, you have to understand what the pitch demands from you as a bowler. You do not worry about which batters are on strike, but instead assess what the wicket requires you to do.
“If there is swing on offer, I will rely on fuller lengths but if the pitch is slow, I will use the off-cutter as my stock ball.
“Nowadays in T20s, there is not a lot of swing to play with apart from the first couple of overs, hence, you have to come up with a strong plan B. You must have different types of deliveries besides conventional swing to outfox the batter.
“As a new-ball bowler, my role in the team is to take early wickets in the Powerplay. On the other hand, while defending a target, I try to create pressure by bowling dot deliveries because if I go for a wicket, I may concede boundaries and the team cannot afford that.”
Mohammad Wasim Junior – Islamabad United
Wasim Jnr has been a dynamic addition to the Islamabad United unit over the past two seasons with his skiddy pace often troubling the batters in the death overs. 12 of Wasim’s 20 wickets in HBL PSL have come in the death overs of an innings, showing his utility in the final phase.
“Fitness is central to a fast bowler’s success and bowling rhythm. Bowling an accurate yorker is a difficult task but the more practice you do in the nets, the better you get at executing the effective delivery.
“If you are bowling in the first innings, your main goal is to dismiss the batters early and keep the opposition restricted to a low score, whereas in the second innings, you can be defensive in your lines and dry up the runs depending on the target.”
Shaheen Shah Afridi – Lahore Qalandars
Lahore Qalandars captain Shaheen has struck in his first over of an innings 15 times in the HBL PSL, consistently providing his team with an attacking start. He was the leading wicket-taker in HBL PSL 7 with 20 scalps. To date, he is the third most successful bowler with 70 wickets in 50 matches at an average of just over 20 with an economy-rate of 7.63.
“Any good batter in the world who has played in the HBL PSL, will always appreciate the standards of fast bowling in the league.
“The main reason is that all the fast bowlers here have healthy competition amongst themselves. They are constantly looking to better each other and putting in impressive performances. This is a positive sign for Pakistan cricket that we have good quicks coming through who bowl with some heat.”
Wahab Riaz – Peshawar Zalmi
Wahab remains the only bowler in HBL PSL to reach the 100-wicket landmark when he took the scalp of Islamabad United batter Danish Aziz last year. The 37-year-old is also the most capped player in the league with 77 appearances and has donned Zalmi colours across all seven seasons.
“As a bowler, you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. You should know how to bowl according to each phase of the innings. The more matches you play and the more experience you gain, you learn important lessons with the exposure.
“I keep things very simple in T20s. It is necessary you realise that batters will attack and you can go for runs, but you need to trust the process and not forget the basics.”