Among the dusty, rugged and slow pitches if the Asia, if ever a side could produce a regular battery of breathtaking fast bowlers it is Pakistan. In their almost 70 year old Cricket history the 1992 World Cup winning country has had great fast bowlers in its service almost every time. Though it is a difficult task to separate the best from the rest, still in this article we aim to look back at 5 greatest fast bowlers, this Cricketing nation often marred by controversies ever produced.
5. Mohammad Amir
Few fast bowlers in the history of Cricket have raised so many eyebrows in their teenage as did this precociously talented Pakistani speedster. Amir debuted in 2009 against Sri Lanka and took the world by storm via his Yorkers, in swingers and deceptive slow bowls. Such was his impact in the early months the even the former Pakistan captain Imran Khan who mentored some greatest Pakistani bowlers claimed that Amir was the best he had ever seen at 17 years of age.
The summer of 2010 was disastrous for the youngster’s career as he was proved of spot fixing and consequently handed a ban of 5 years. Amir came back in 2015 still effective but nowhere near his former self. He however again proved his worth for Pakistan in the 2017 Champions trophy and then again proved to be the best Pakistani fast bowler in the 2019 World Cup. Still at 27 and retired from test cricket, Amir has many year to build a career that could have been one of the greatest ever if the affected by the scandal of 2010.
Amir has played 36 tests for Pakistan claiming 119 wickets. He has also played 61 One day matches taking 81 wickets along with 59 wickets from 40 T20 matches. Even Virat Kohli speaks high of Amir’s potential calling him the World Class bowler on any day at any track.
4. Shoaib Akhtar
Arguably the fastest bowler ever in play the game of Cricket and certainly the man with fastest ever recorded delivery, Shoaib Akhtar was one of the best ever fast bowlers produced by Pakistan. In a career that was affected by the trinity of injuries, arrogance and controversies Shoaib represented Pakistan for about 15 year and remained flamboyant from start to finish.
The Rawalpindi Express was the 1st ever bowler to hit 100 miles per hour on the speed recorder. A little more disciplined Shoaib could have been a far greater bowler for Pakistan. Akhtar also sent fear into the mind of the batsmen with his express run up. His bouncers spilled a lot of blood on the ground where great batsmen like Brian Lara and Justin Langer were at the receiving end.
The speedster who loved controversies as is even inferred by his appropriately titled autobiography Controversially Yours played 46 tests for Pakistan claiming 178 wickets. He also represented Pakistan in 163 One day matches where he succeeded in taking 247 wickets.
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3. Imran Khan
Imran was the best all-rounder that Pakistan ever produced and also the best ever Pakistan skipper. In 1970s and 80s when fast bowling was generally associated more with West Indies and Australian, Khan emerged from the subcontinent and became one of the then fastest bowlers in the world. Imran could swing the ball at good pace and once he learned the art of reverse swing from fellow pace bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz, Imran became a truly deadly bowler.
The Lion of Lahore as he is famously called Imran played 88 tests for Pakistan taking 362 wickets. He also took 182 wickets in 175 One day matches. Imran’s recurring shoulder injury prevented him from bowling much late into his career and he remained more as a batting all-rounder. However he is regarded as the main inspiration for a series of Pakistani fast bowlers in 1990s and 200s. Imran also left cricket on a high after leading his team to the World Cup victory in 1992.
2. Waqar Younis
Few bowlers in history have bowled such accurate toe crushing Yorkers and has such command over the art of reverse swing as this man from Multan, lovingly known as Burewalla Express. Waqar along with Wasim Akram formed one of the most formidable and destructive fast bowling pairs in Cricket history. Waqar Younis was one of the fastest bowlers in the world at his peak and had the ability to bowl with over 90 miles per hour on consistent basis and with a lot of control over the ball.
Waqar played 87 tests and 262 One day matches for Pakistan in which he took 373 and 416 wickets respectively. But beyond numbers Waqar’s real ability was to take wickets when they were needed the most making him an absolute match winner. This can be gauged by the fact that he retired with the best strike rate bowler in cricket history among the bowlers with 350 or more wickets. Waqar’s strike rate of 43.40 has since been only bested by Dale Steyn of South Africa with 42.30.
1. Wasim Akram
Akram was beyond doubt the best ever fast bowler produced by Pakistan and is regarded by many as the best ever in Cricket history. The lefty with short run upand more than decent pace was famously known as the Sultan of Swing. Many great regard Wasim as the best bowler they have ever faced and many fellow pace bowlers have called him a complete fast bowler. His heroics were at best display during the World Cup of 1992, when he cleaned up the England middle order in quick succession and gave put Pakistan in the driver’s seat.
Akram represented Pakistan for almost 18 years in which he played 104 test matches and took 414 wickets. He also played 356 ODIs in which he took 502 wickets. Wasim retired as the highest Wicket taker in both test matches and One day matches. He was the 1st bowler to hit the 500 wicket mark. In ODIs, he still remains as the highest wicket taking fast bowler and 2nd highest overall behind Muttiah Muralitharan. Wasim was also an able lower order batsman for Pakistan.