Pakistan's top 10 bowlers
The golden age of Pakistani bowling may be over, but young up-and-comers have many glorious examples to draw inspiration from.
Whereas the other Asian teams have struggled to produce even one genuine blood-and-thunder fast bowler, Pakistan has fielded as many as three in the same lineup. Pakistan’s spinners and pace-men have truly been pioneers and the following is a list of the best of the best.
10. Khan Mohammad: The first Pakistani to take a Test wicket, Khan Mohammad was probably the fastest bowler in Asia during the span of his career (1952-58). The prototype of the modern Pakistani fast bowler, Khan Mohammad swung the ball with pace, but like the fast-men who were to follow him decades later, he was also prone to break down, with his career eventually curtailed by injury. When fit, he was lionhearted, famously bowling unchanged with Fazal Mahmood, through an entire inning in Tests against both England and Australia.
9. Iqbal Qasim: The best left-arm spinner to play for Pakistan, Iqbal Qasim never quite became a regular member of the team, often out of favour for a year at a time. His best moment came in India in 1987 when he was recalled after two years in the wilderness. On a minefield of a track, Qasim (along with off-spinner Tauseef Ahmed) spun Pakistan to a series victory at Bangalore with nine wickets in the match.
8. Sarfraz Nawaz: Tall and strong, with big hair and moustache, Sarfraz Nawaz was the picture of ‘70s cricketing machismo. At his peak, he was capable of genuine pace, but mostly settled for the medium stuff, which allowed him more control over swing. Sarfraz is said to be the one who discovered the process of reverse-swing, though he lacked the pace to make full use of it himself. His finest moment was at Melbourne in 1979, when he single-handedly bowled Pakistan to victory from an impossible position.
7. Shoaib Akhtar: Despite numerous controversies, bans and injuries, Shoaib Akhtar remains a great bowler, the only one to ever be clocked bowling more than 100 miles per hour. At his best he has no rivals and can turn around a game in minutes through scorching pace and reverseswing. However, in his last Test played against India in December 2007, Shoaib was a shadow of himself, unfit and overweight, recovering from fever and barely jogging in where once he steamed in from the boundary line. Yet he was still the fastest bowler on either side.
6. Saqlain Mushtaq: A classic off-spinner with a side-on, uncomplicated bowling action, Saqlain Mushtaq burned brightly on the world stage before injuries put a premature end to his career in 2004. Saqlain developed the off-spinner’s version of the wrong ‘un, which behaves like a legbreak. He called this delivery his doosra — in this context, Urdu for “the other.” The ball, now universally known as the doosra, has become an essential weapon in the armoury of Test cricket’s most successful bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, among others. Saqlain Mushtaq will be remembered as one of ODI cricket’s best-ever spinners with 288 wickets in 169 matches.
5. Fazal Mahmood: Never an outright fast bowler, Fazal Mahmood relied on keeping a tight line and letting swing and cut do the rest. As Pakistan’s first cricketing icon, Fazal Mahmood made Pakistan immediately competitive upon the country’s Test debut. Pakistan won the second Test they ever played by the whopping margin of an innings and 43 runs, largely on the back of Fazal Mahmood’s devastating figures of 5-52 and 7-42. Equally memorable were his match-winning returns of 6-53 and 6-46 at the Oval during Pakistan’s first tour of England in 1954.
4. Abdul Qadir: A true original, Abdul Qadir revived the art of leg-spin when it was all but forgotten in the late ’70s. By the mid-’80s he was arguably the greatest spinner in the world, making Pakistan’s bowling arsenal a formidable prospect for even the best batting lineups. There were many great performances in his colourful career, but taking 6-16 in 1986 to bowl out the mighty West Indies for 53 was a highlight. Qadir had incredible variety, more than enough that he could bowl six different balls in an over.
3. Waqar Younis: In peak form, no Pakistani bowler was more destructive than Waqar Younis (1989-2003). He had a ball that was all his own — the toe-crushing yorker. Traditionally bowlers of extreme pace would go headhunting, but Waqar had other ideas, angling the ball into the base of the stumps and forcing batsmen to get out of the way or lose a foot, which came to be known as being Waqared. He holds the record for the most five-wicket hauls (13) in ODI history, including a record three consecutive fivewicket matches.
2. Imran Khan: Imran Khan was the first true fast bowler to emerge from Asia. In the 1970s and ‘80s there were a number of outright fast bowlers on the international circuit and Imran was certainly in the upper echelons of that pace hierarchy. On Pakistani pitches that were considered to be graveyards for fast-bowlers, Imran extracted astonishing pace, most notably against India in the 1982-83 series where in six Tests he took 40 wickets. The effort took a toll on his body and at the peak of his powers Imran was sidelined for 2 1/2 years with an ankle injury.
1. Wasim Akram: The greatest left-arm fast bowler to ever play the game, the only man to take 500 wickets in ODIs and Pakistan’s leading Test wicket taker, Wasim Akram is simply incomparable. Like Abdul Qadir, Wasim Akram was capable of bowling six different balls in an over. Like Waqar Younis, he was a master of reverse-swing and like his mentor Imran Khan, he was a thinking bowler, setting up his victims with elaborate traps. Imran considered Wasim to be a naturally superior bowler to himself and went about polishing him into a diamond. Wasim, for his part, was a willing pupil and the desire to learn kept him among the world’s best bowlers right until his retirement in 2003. His career highlights were many, but he will always be remembered for a match-winning spell of glorious bowling in the 1992 World Cup final
Good list, would have taken Mushy over Khan Mohammad the rest looks fine though Wasim over Imran is debatable aswell.