Rauf's remarkable rise capped by Pakistan call-up
From Tasmanian Premier Cricket to being picked for his country in a matter of weeks, Haris Rauf's incredible BBL-fueled ascension continues
16 January 2020, 09:07 PM AEST
Haris Rauf's extraordinary rise has continued after the Melbourne Stars paceman who was playing club cricket in Tasmania only a few weeks ago was picked to play for Pakistan.
Rauf looks set to miss multiple games for the Stars at the back-end of the BBL09 regular season after Pakistan announced on Thursday he'd made a 16-man squad to play a three-game T20 series against Bangladesh beginning next week.
The ladder-leading Stars are hopeful the 26-year-old, who took a hat-trick against the Sydney Thunder at the MCG last week, will be back for their finals campaign, which will begin on January 31 presuming they do not drop out of the top two.
Pakistan play Bangladesh in T20s on January 24, 25 and 27, all in Lahore.
Stars list manager Trent Woodhill and coach David Hussey were in discussions with Rauf over his availability for the rest of the season on Thursday. Their four remaining home-and-away games are on January 18, 20, 22 and 25.
Pakistan T20 squad to play Bangladesh: Babar Azam (c), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir
Rauf's inclusion comes as high-profile quick Mohammad Amir was left out, with Pakistan making seven changes to the squad that lost 2-0 to Australia in November.
Experienced pair Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik have been recalled to the Pakistan squad, as has young quick Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Rauf has been a revelation for the Stars and a testament to the power of the BBL; plucked from obscurity for their first two games as a replacement for his idol Dale Steyn, the right-armer was dropped after taking a five-wicket haul as the South African returned.
But, with only two spots in the XI available to overseas players, he was retained as English fast bowler Pat Brown was ruled out for the tournament through injury.
Despite speaking limited English which initially created a communication barrier with captain Glenn Maxwell and Stars coaches, Rauf has flourished as the side's strike weapon.
Rauf grew up playing tape-ball cricket and only took up the game seriously in 2017 after attending a trial with Pakistan Super League side Lahore Qalandars, impressing scouts when he bowled a ball at 148.5kph.
At first he struggled to adapt to hard-ball cricket but eventually thrived in the 2019 edition of the PSL, taking 11 wickets in 10 games, following extensive work with former Test bowler Aaqib Javed.
He was playing for Glenorchy Magpies in Hobart when he got the call-up from the Stars, and now has the second most wickets (16) of any bowler this BBL season.
"I never even knew Haris was here until I got here," Steyn told cricket.com.au earlier this month. "I didn't know much about him and watched him bowl in the nets before the first game he played and he scared everybody.
"He was bouncing guys and eventually they had to go to him and say, 'look, you've got to stop bowling now. We've got a game tomorrow. You can't injure any of these guys.'"
Pakistan's selection chief Misbah-ul-Haq is hopeful Rauf can help reverse Pakistan's worrying slide in T20 cricket, despite being the No.1 team on the ICC rankings, ahead of next summer's World Cup in Australia as well as this year's Asia Cup.
"We have lost eight of our last nine T20Is and as the number-one ranked side, this is unacceptable," said Misbah.
"We need to end our losing cycle and get back to winning habits leading into the upcoming Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup. This has played a critical role in our decision-making.
"We tried our alternate combinations in the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, and obviously, these didn't work the way we had expected.
"The matches against Bangladesh are part of our preparation, finding the right combination and building for the two major tournaments.
"The return of Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shaheen Afridi gives us the experience and depth, while the exuberance of Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf gives the team more firepower, energy and all-round skill."