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Pakistan’s pace-bowling production line shows no signs of slowing down

Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 4 minute read

There is arguably no country that produces exciting fast bowlers at the same rate as Pakistan.

The combination of natural talent and a willingness among authorities to give young quicks an early chance to thrive in international cricket means that their young quicks are afforded a platform to make names for themselves in a way that their contemporaries elsewhere do not.

Here are some names – all aged 23 or under – ranging in familiarity that have created a buzz thus far:

Shaheen Afridi

Age 21
86 Test wickets at 23.89
53 ODI wickets at 24.62
45 T20I wickets at 24.93

Ever since he burst onto the scene at the 2018 U19 World Cup, Shaheen has been destined for the top. He debuted in all three intentional formats at senior level later that year and in 2022, is firmly the leader of the Pakistan attack in all conditions and in all formats. Still only 21, Afridi already is the proud taker of 184 wickets in international cricket. In the history of the game, only Waqar Younis, Rashid Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq and Irfran Pathan have taken more before their 22nd birthdays – Shaheen still has three months to claw his way further up that list.

Naseem Shah

Age 18
20 Test wickets at 42.45

Naseem sensationally made his Test debut at the age of 16 and while his Test career hasn’t all been plain sailing, he’s shown more than enough to suggest that he will enjoy a long, prosperous career at the highest level. He was just 16 when he became the youngest Test cricketer to take a hat-trick back in early 2020 and while there have been setbacks since – a pair of gruelling tours to England and New Zealand showed that there is still some way to go before he’s the finished article – expect him to be a mainstay in the Pakistan set-up for many years to come.

Mohammad Hasnain

Age 21
12 ODI wickets at 37.91
17 T20I wickets at 30.70

One day older than Shaheen and another capable of hitting the 90mph mark. Hasnain has limited first-class experience but has made a name for himself in the shorter formats; just today, he made a statement on his BBL debut, taking a triple-wicket maiden in his first over in the competition. Hasnain was the second-leading wicket-taker at the 2020 PSL with 15 wickets at 19.13 . The man at the top? Shaheen.

Shahnawaz Dahani

Age 23
Two T20I wickets at 23.50

Within a year of making his professional T20 debut in the 2021 PSL, Dahani was racing in for his national side in T20Is against Bangladesh and West Indies. In his T20I against the West Indies, Dahani – the leading wicket-taker at PSL 6 – was clocked at 92.8mph. Expect further T20 tournament opportunities to come Dahani’s way in 2022.

Mohammad Wasim

Age 20
15 T20I wickets at 16

Wasim, like exciting young batter Haider Ali and Test top-order prospect Muhammad Huraira, was a part of Pakistan’s 2020 U19 World Cup group. Fast-tracked into the national set-up – nearly half of his T20 appearances have come for Pakistan – Wasim has already made a noticeable impression. Against West Indies in late 2021, he thrilled viewers with a flurry of well-directed yorkers, finishing the three-match series as the series’ leading wicket-taker.

Arshad Iqbal

Age 21
One T20I wicket at 16

Not quite in the same speed category as the others on this list, but Arshad has a burgeoning reputation as a smart T20 operator who varies his pace well. Iqbal made his T20I debut against Zimbabwe last year, taking 1-16 from his four overs.

Zeeshan Zameer

Age 19

Zameer is the least well-known player on this list but there’s much cause for excitement. He is yet to play first-class, List A or T20 cricket (though he did play in the 2020/21 Abu Dhabi T10 League) but has created a splash at the U19 Asia Cup, finishing as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets at 9.45. Zameer, who cites Pat Cummins as his role model, is reportedly capable of hitting 90mph – expect him to be one of the stars of this year’s U19 World Cup.

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