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Excitement around the upcoming ODI World Cup has reached a fever pitch, with former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir suggesting that, for the first time in history, India and Pakistan possess equally formidable pace attacks. This has led to the tantalising prospect of a contest between Pakistan’s batting and India’s bowling and vice versa. However, are these claims grounded in reality? Let’s dive into the statistics to ascertain the truth.

Pakistan have historically been 1-0 up on India’s bowling. Throughout history, their fast-bowling attack has been seen as weaker compared to Pakistan. But the situation now is different.

Both have unearthed a crop of world-class fast bowlers in recent years. India flaunt Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammad Siraj, while Pakistan boast Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Haris, and Naseem Shah. The question then arises: which team has the superior pace attack?

To answer this question, we will meticulously examine these bowlers’ bowling averages, economy rates, and strike rates since the 2019 World Cup. Moreover, we will factor in their performances in pivotal matches to gain a comprehensive understanding of their abilities.

So, who possesses the most formidable fast-bowling attack between India and Pakistan? Let’s scrutinize the data to find out!

Pakistan’s pace powerhouses

Shaheen Shah Afridi: the emerging spearhead

Shaheen Afridi, Pakistan’s pace sensation, has been nothing short of a revelation since his debut in 2018. Sporting a career average of 22.62 and an economy rate of 5.37, Afridi has consistently proven himself as a match-winner.

His recent form, particularly in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League spanning from 2020 to 2022/23, is nothing short of impressive. During this period, he has clinched 22 wickets at an average of 28.77. Furthermore, his standout performance in the 2023 Asia Cup, where he claimed seven wickets at an average of 14.85, further solidifies his indispensable role within the Pakistani team.

Presently ranked 5th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Afridi is undeniably a force to be reckoned with.

Shaheen Afridi’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 23
  • Total Wickets: 43
  • Economy: 5.28
  • Average: 23.97

Haris Rauf: the meteoric rise

Haris Rauf’s journey from obscurity to international stardom has been nothing short of remarkable. Sporting a career average of 23.81 and an economy rate of 5.68, he has consistently sent shivers down the spines of batsmen.

In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, his haul of 30 wickets at an average of 29.26 underscores his propensity for picking up vital breakthroughs. His dazzling form extended into the 2023 Asia Cup, where he has notched up nine wickets at an astonishing average of 10.33. Currently ranked 29th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Rauf is an invaluable asset.

Haris Rauf’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 27
  • Total Wickets: 53
  • Economy: 5.68
  • Average: 23.81

Naseem Shah: the young sensation

Naseem Shah, often hailed as one of the most exciting prospects in international cricket, has been making waves with his raw pace and bounce.

Despite his limited experience, Naseem has already taken 32 wickets in ODIs at an average of 15.31 and an economy rate of 4.60. His ability to generate movement and extract bounce from the pitch has made him a valuable asset for Pakistan. In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, Naseem was instrumental in Pakistan’s success, claiming 18 wickets at a remarkable average of 12.55.

In the Asia Cup held in 2023, he continued to showcase his skills, taking seven wickets at an average of 12.42. Currently ranked 68th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Naseem Shah is undoubtedly a bowler to watch out for in the coming years.

Naseem Shah’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 13
  • Total Wickets: 32
  • Economy: 4.60
  • Average: 15.31

Mohammad Wasim Jr: the newcomer

Mohammad Wasim Jr, the newest addition to Pakistan’s fast bowling contingent, has displayed promise in his brief international career. With 24 wickets at an average of 25.66 and an economy rate of 5.16, Wasim has shown the potential to become a valuable asset for Pakistan.

In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, he contributed 18 wickets at an average of 25.94. His performance in 2023, with nine wickets at an average of 4.50, further highlights his ability to make an impact. As a young and emerging talent, Mohammad Wasim Jr has the opportunity to grow and develop into a key bowler for Pakistan.

Mohammad Wasim Jr’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 15
  • Total Wickets: 24
  • Economy: 5.16
  • Average: 25.66

India’s fast bowling warriors

Jasprit Bumrah: the spearhead

Jasprit Bumrah, India’s premier fast bowler, boasts a career average of 24.30 and an economy rate of 4.63.

While his recent form (filtered from 2020 to 2023) shows a slight dip, with an average of 38.16, his ability to be a game-changer is evident from his performance in 2020 when he claimed 14 wickets at an astonishing average of 10.00. Currently ranked 35th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Bumrah remains a linchpin for India.

Jasprit Bumrah’s Stats (Since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 15
  • Total Wickets: 18
  • Economy: 5.16
  • Average: 38.16

Shardul Thakur: the reliable all-rounder

Shardul Thakur has emerged as a versatile option for India, providing crucial breakthroughs with both bat and ball. His career average of 29.11 and an economy rate of 6.17 suggest he has been a valuable asset for India since his debut in 2017.

Thakur has maintained consistency in recent years (filtered from 2019 to 2023). He has been a reliable performer, with an average of 28.30 and an economy rate of 6.18. His performance in 2023, where he took 11 wickets at an average of 9.09, demonstrates his ability to step up when needed. Currently ranked 32nd in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Thakur is becoming an influential bowler.

Shardul Thakur’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 35
  • Total Wickets: 53
  • Economy: 6.18
  • Average: 28.30

Mohammad Siraj: the rising star

Mohammad Siraj, a relatively new addition to the Indian bowling attack, has made significant strides in international cricket. With an overall career average of 20.69 and an economy rate of 4.86, he has shown his potential to be a match-winner for India. Siraj’s recent performances (filtered from 2019 to 2023) highlight his progress.

In 2023, he took 22 wickets at an average of 14.18, making him a vital cog in India’s bowling wheel. Currently ranked 8th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, Siraj’s meteoric rise is a testament to his hard work and skill.

Mohammad Siraj’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 25
  • Total Wickets: 46
  • Economy: 4.71
  • Average: 19.04

Mohammad Shami: the experienced campaigner

Mohammad Shami has been a stalwart of the Indian fast-bowling attack for many years. With an unfiltered career average of 26.00 and an economy rate of 5.59, he has been a wicket-taking machine for India. In recent times (filtered from 2019 to 2023), Shami’s consistency remains evident.

With an average of 30.41 and an economy rate of 5.94, he continues to be a potent force. His ability to take crucial wickets was evident in 2023, when he picked up 11 wickets at an average of 29.90. Currently ranked 34th in the ICC Bowling Rankings for ODIs, reflecting his enduring value to the Indian team.

Mohammad Shami’s stats (since 2019):

  • Total Matches: 24
  • Total Wickets: 36
  • Economy: 5.94
  • Average: 30.41

Final word

Both Pakistan and India possess formidable fast bowling arsenals, but the debate over which team boasts the superior pace attack rages on.

While Pakistan showcases young talents like Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah, India relies on the experience of Bumrah, Thakur, Siraj, and Shami. The battle between these two sides promises to deliver thrilling contests, and cricket enthusiasts worldwide will eagerly await these showdowns on the international stage.

A trailer of what is to come will continue at the Asia Cup when these two sides clash on Sunday (September 10), but reports suggest rain could prove to be a spoiler yet again.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Syed Ahmed Raza

The writer is Senior Sub Editor at Business Recorder (Digital)


Comments are closed.

John Sep 11, 2023 06:27pm
baber Azam does not have skills and mindset to be a winning captain!
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JK Sep 12, 2023 06:43pm
@John, Very true...he is a good batsmen..but lacks brains to implement a winning strategy! P.S. Pakistan's chances of winning the tournament are slim given the lucrative offers by the India's matching fixing mafia!
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