The Tale of Pakistan's Pace Attack
Pakistan’s trump card on the cricketing field has always been their fast bowlers. We are lucky that we have never been short of this resource. There is no denying a fact that Pakistan’s cricket had seen so many ups and downs, fights, revolts, scandals and controversies but the ability to produce fast bowlers have always been there.
In Pakistan, bowling quick is a national obsession. It is somewhat a passion to bowl quick, to rattle the stumps or to hit the batsmen. Even in the beginning when Pakistan first emerged on the cricketing field we were blessed with the likes of Fazal Mehmood and Mahmood Hussain. Only West Indies and Australia compete with Pakistan when one talks about quick bowlers. Out of 14 bowlers in the list of 350+ wicket takers in cricket Pakistan have got 3.
There have been lightning fast pacers, bowlers such as Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhar, Muhammad Zahid. There have been not so quick but smart customers like Wasim Akram, Sarfaraz Nawaz and Fazal Mehmood. Pakistani pace bowlers gifted the world with the most significant and major innovation termed as The Reverse Swing. This was one lethal delivery which was first bowled by Sarfaraz Nawaz. Bowlers from Pakistan used it to perfection and troubled the batsmen from around the globe.
Starting with the spiritual father of Pakistan’s pace bowling, Fazal Mehmood. He was responsible for the early successes of Pakistan cricket. On rain-affected pitches Mehmood was unplayable. He was not that quick but had a smart brain. With his 12 wickets against India, England and West Indies he helped Pakistan to emerge on the cricketing arena.
In came Sarfaraz Nawaz the founding father of today’s reverse swing. He was the integral part of Pakistan’s pace attack when the team progressed through the early 70’s. He however is still underrated in comparison with the modern day grates.
Imran khan was an average medium pacer when he kicked off his test carrier in 1971. He transformed into one of the finest and the most complete fast bowler the world has ever seen. He was one the quickest back in 1980’s. He was blessed with natural in-swing and out-swing deliveries. He was the one who brought in the art of bowling short deliveries to Pakistan cricket. He had the most smooth run up and the awe-inspiring action to follow. He was athletic, physically super fit and the one who understood the game.
Wasim Akram undoubtedly is greatest left arm fast bowler ever to play the game. He was the one of his kind. Akram was blessed with everything you can ask for in a fast bowler. Who are we to argue when Imran khan himself said that he was the most naturally gifted fast bowler he had ever seen. Akram holds the record of taking 500+ ODI wickets by any fast bowler. To top it all he remains Pakistan’s highest test wicket taker with over 400 scalps to his name.
When waqar came on the scene in the early 90’s, he was the most lethal and destructive bowler. He could swing and seem at pace. He almost mastered the art of reverse swing and bowled it even better than Wasim and Imran. He got majority of his wickets by either rattling the stumps or getting a batsman LBW. Waqar has the best strike rate among the bowlers who had taken over 200 test wickets
Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar was the fastest of the lot. He was frighteningly quick. He holds the record for bowling the fastest delivery by any bowler. Sadly his career was not smooth as he was the victim of controversies and injuries. On a given day he could win the game on his own. He had bowled some lethal bouncers to some finest batsman of the game. His bouncers felled Lara, felled Kirsten even Sachin could not resist his pace at the Eden Gardens. He broke Nasir Hussain’s fingers, floored Ganguly and what not.