New Pakistan pacer Rauf keen to make his name in T20 series

Haris Rauf wants to make a big splash in his international cricket debut.

Showing no sign of nerves days out from his first match for Pakistan, Rauf is determined to finish the Twenty20 series against Bangladesh starting on Friday as the best bowler.

Rauf was first spotted by Lahore Qalandars of the Pakistan Super League in 2017 during an open trial. The fast bowler was groomed by Cricket World Cup-winning pacer Aqib Javed at the Qalandars, and he's really made himself known in the ongoing Big Bash League.

The 26-year-old Rauf constantly bowled at more than 140 kph in Australia and took 16 wickets in seven matches for the Melbourne Stars, including a hat trick and a five-wicket haul.

That earned him selection for Pakistan's T20s against Bangladesh in Lahore on Friday, Saturday, and Monday.

“I have set a target for myself and that is to be the best bowler of the series,” Rauf said. “I have been performing well in the Big Bash League and will try to replicate that for my country.”

For the BBL, Rauf was drafted for three games initially when his idol Dale Steyn was injured. But when he bowled effectively with the old ball in death overs, he played seven matches before he was called up by Pakistan.

“I don’t think a bowler gets ignored if he knows he can bowl at 140 kph plus,” Rauf said.

“Whatever training I do, I try to maintain the pace. I touched 150 kph in Big Bash, but it’s not in my mind. My aim is to bowl consistently at 140 kph plus."

Rauf is one of four young fast bowlers in the Pakistan squad, after the selectors dropped the experienced Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz with an eye on finding talent and wins before the T20 World Cup in October. No 1-ranked Pakistan lost eight of nine T20s last year.

Rauf's transition into the national team has been eased by the presence of Qalandars teammate and fellow fast bowler Shaheen Afridi.

“I have played with him in the PSL," Rauf said. "I will get another chance with him and I hope it will help us to perform.”