We need to polish the skills of our young speedsters currently featuring in the Asia Cup so they can become match winners
Fast bowlers always play a vital role in the success of any cricket team. They are the front-line soldiers. Without good fast bowlers, a team's success, especially in shorter formats, is very difficult.
Pakistan has an impressive history of producing great fast bowlers and these fast bowlers helped Pakistan win many matches even when they had a fragile batting line, not only at home but abroad too.
In the ongoing Asia Cup, Pakistan team is missing the services of ace fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi who is out of the tournament due to an injury. Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dhani and Mohammad Hasnain are trying their best, but they don't have consistency, due to which there is no real threat for the opposition.
Shaheen and Hasan Ali, Pakistan's premier pace-bowlers, have seen a steep rise in their workloads in recent times. The number of overs bowled by these two is much higher than other Pakistan bowlers.
Shaheen is a world-class pace bowler and a genuine match winner, especially in limited overs cricket. Reverse-swing, slow balls, yorkers, and bouncers are his potent weapons.
Shaheen made his Twenty20 International debut against West Indies on April 3, 2018, in Karachi. He conceded 27 runs, but failed to take a wicket.
In recent years, the 22-year-old Afridi has established himself as Pakistan's frontline bowler across all three formats. He has tended to play most of Pakistan's internationals, providing the team with a serious wicket-taking threat, especially with the new ball.
Since Shaheen's debut in international cricket, he has been playing cricket continuously in all formats of the game. This could be the reason behind the pacer's injury.
People are concerned about the fast bowler's workload. "He will need to be used very carefully as I don't think he will survive if his workload is not managed," a former captain says.
The PCB management should share the workload of Shaheen and other fast bowlers. It could be a good idea to look to prepare different sets of fast-bowlers for Test cricket and limited-overs cricket in the coming years.
One of the main talking points after the early matches in the Asia Cup matches has been Pakistan's fast bowling. If we look at fast bowlers' performance, there wasn't much variation in what they were delivering. They didn't try yorker, though a yorker is a wicket-taking ball, especially in the last few overs.
It's much harder to bowl yorkers or bouncers if you are tired. But it's fine to do it when you are bowling only four overs in a T20. The delivery can give you great results but it's difficult to bowl it consistently well.
In these days, yorker has gone out of fashion but still if a bowler is not bowling yorkers in the death overs, it is because he is facing some problem or is not confident that he can bowl it. It is one of the hardest deliveries to get right in cricket, something many bowlers spend an entire career trying to perfect.
Pakistan can potentially prepare Naseem Shah as a new-ball option for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. He is performing well in the Asia Cup in the absence of Shaheen.
Naseem while playing for Quetta Gladiators during the PSL revealed that he spoke to iconic seamer Umar Gul about the art of bowling Yorkers.
Haris Rauf is still in search of his form. In the first three matches in Asia Cup, he claimed only one wicket, conceding 79 runs while his economy rate 8.77 is also very high.
Hassan is one of the best fast bowlers in current Pakistani squad. Reverse-swing, slow balls, solid yorkers, and a skiddy bouncer are his potent weapons. But after return from injury, he didn't find his rhythm. That's why he is watching the Asia Cup from the dressing room.
Former Pakistani fast bowling pair Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are examples. They were the most lethal new-ball pairing in world cricket in the 1990s. Their yorkers got them plenty of wickets.
Why have Pakistani fast bowlers forgotten to bowl Yorkers, especially in the death overs? There are so many coaches around the Pakistan team, so why are they not getting the bowlers to practice bowling yorkers?
Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav in an interview said that he had a problem with bowling Yorkers. "My ball often strayed on the leg. But Wasim Akram bhai helped me with that," he said.
Wasim and Waqar were the masters of swing and seam movement. Their yorkers also gained the reputation of being some of the deadliest. Waqar especially remained the best exponent of the yorker until his retirement, and there have been few who are close to him in this ability.
Pakistan's current bowling coach Australia's Shaun Tait, who was one of the fastest bowlers of his time and used yorkers very effectively, should train Pakistani fast bowlers to bowl yorkers, especially in the death overs.
The board and the management should sit together, make plans and assign the task to bowling coach and regional academies to find bowlers who can share the burden of fast bowling in future.