When we talk about Pakistan’s fast bowling history, we can’t name a few, but we will have dozens of names before we sort out the ten best among them. Fast bowling has always been Pakistan cricket’s main strength. As we memorise those names, we will remember one after the other because these are all household names. This post will discuss the ten best Pakistani fast bowlers of all time.
Pakistan cricket has kept producing talented pacers who were masters of swing and seam. The country continues to produce talented pacers who have the capabilities to match the calibre of some of the past legends. The deadly combination of these legendary pacers’ reverse swing and the raw pace was a nightmare for any opposition batsman.
The bowlers mentioned in our list were match-winners of the highest rank and had the skill and temperament to adapt to any conditions. These pacers could change the outcome of any game and had the intelligence to take full advantage of the wickets and conditions they played in. Surprisingly, they all had different skill sets; some were deadly with their reverse swing, while some were penetrative with their out-swingers. Some threatened the opposition with their raw pace, while some were more useful in seaming conditions. We look at the performances of these ten best fast bowlers of Pakistan Cricket.
#1 Imran KhanEmbed from Getty Images
The former skipper inspired a generation of fast bowlers in Pakistan and will be remembered as the greatest of all time. The 70-year-old relied on his out-swingers and reverse swing as he got the better of any set batsman in overcast conditions. His pace was somewhat tricky to handle.
Imran Khan’s never says die attitude, and determined approach helped his side to get over pressure situations. ‘Kaptan’, as he was fondly called, took 362 wickets in 88 Tests with best bowling figures of 8/58. The all-rounder claimed 182 wickets in 175 ODIs, with the best bowling figures of 6/14. The skipper always led from the front with the bat as well as with the ball. He is the only Pakistani bowler to be named in the top ten wicket-takers against India in Tests.
#2 Sarfaraz Nawaz
The man who invented reverse swing was a threat to any batsman, irrespective of the type of wickets. Sarfaraz Nawaz has destroyed the best batting lineups with his brutal reverse swing combined with the speed he generated from his forearms. He had the pace to abstract bounce on slow wickets.
Nawaz took 177 wickets in 90 Test matches with the best bowling figures of 9/86. He claimed 63 wickets in 45 ODIs with the best bowling figures of 4/27. His nine wickets against Australia in an innings will remain as one of the best bowling performances by any bowler.
#3 Fazal MahmoodEmbed from Getty Images
Fazal Mahmood’s numbers shouldn’t be compared with the present or the generation that followed, as hardly any games were played during the 1950s and ’60s. Still, the pacer inspired the next generation of bowlers with his pace and outswing.
Mahmood’s leg cutters were equally penetrative in overcast conditions helping his side register wins single-handedly against India, Australia and England. He took 139 wickets in 34 Tests with the best bowling figures of 7/42.
#4 Wasim AkramEmbed from Getty Images
Arguably one of the best fast bowlers in world cricket, Wasim Akram was a threat and a big match-winner on his day. The pacer swung the ball both ways and showcased tremendous accuracy with his length. Akram was brutal with his fast action, and his aggressive approach on the field helped his teammates play with intensity.
The charismatic skipper was skilful enough with his reverse swing and was penetrative with the new ball and the old ball when his swing gained more traction. Akram bowled a tight line during the death overs, as he was tough to take on during that phase of the game.
In 104 Tests, Wasim Akram took 414 wickets with the best bowling figures of 7/119. In 356 ODIs, all rounder took 502 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/15.
#5 Waqar YounisEmbed from Getty Images
Waqar Younis was one of the fastest during the 1990s before the arrival of Shoaib Akhtar in the late ’90s. The pacer had this unique quality to swing the ball at a tremendous pace. He bowled yorkers that totally outgunned the batters and was equally destructive with his bouncers and a penetrative reverse swing in overcast conditions.
In 87 Test matches, Waqar Younis claimed 373 wickets with the best bowling figures of 7/76. The pacer took 416 wickets in 262 ODI games with the best bowling figures of 7/36. He is the only player in the ODI history to pick 5 6-wicket hauls.
#6 Shoaib AkhtarEmbed from Getty Images
Arguably one of the fastest bowlers in the world, Shoaib Akhtar was a nightmare for the best batters in World Cricket. The 47-year-old bowled with terrific speed and pace, even on slow wickets.
The Rawalpindi-born was a controversial figure and remained to be in Pakistan cricket. Akhtar generated pace from his powerful shoulders and forearms. His yorkers and fast full-length deliveries took a lot of work to hit by the best of batters.
He took 178 wickets in 48 Tests with the best bowling figures of 6/11. The pacer claimed 247 wickets in 163 ODIs with the best bowling figures of 6/16.
#7 Umar GulEmbed from Getty Images
Umar Gul was considered amongst the finest new ball bowlers who could generate pace with his hard-length deliveries and clever inswingers. The 40-year-old used the slower ones cleverly on fast wickets, as the pacer was quite effective with the slower ones at the death.
Gul’s back-of-length deliveries were difficult to put away as they possessed pace and bounce. The pacer also bowled fast-swinging yorker-length deliveries at the death.
#8 Abdul RazzaqEmbed from Getty Images
Many would be surprised to find Abdul Razzaq’s name on the list, but the all-rounder was a threat with the ball when he got going. The 42-year-old didn’t possess the pace, but his outswingers and gentle leg cutters foxed any set batsmen.
The medium-pacer was a partnership breaker with his deceptive swing, as he was a resourceful option with the old ball.
Razzaq took 100 wickets in 46 Tests with the best bowling figures of 5/35. The Lahore born has claimed 269 wickets in 265 ODIs with the best bowling figures of 6/35.
#9 Mohammad SamiEmbed from Getty Images
For hundreds of budding Pakistani cricketers, it was a delight to watch Mohammad Sami bowl with his steaming pace and fast full-length deliveries. Unfortunately, the talented pacer couldn’t play enough Test matches for the national side.
The 41-year-old surprised the batters with his uneven bounce and fast hard-length deliveries. Sami swung the ball both ways and was a threat with his fast yorkers at the death in the ODI format.
The pacer claimed 85 wickets in 36 Tests with the best bowling figures of 5/36. Sami took 121 wickets in 87 ODIs with the best bowling figures of 5/10.
#10 Aaqib JavedEmbed from Getty Images
Aaqib Javed was another pacer who was unfortunate not to play enough Test matches for Pakistan. With the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Abdul Razzaq in the playing eleven alongside the greats like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, Javed couldn’t make it to the playing eleven easily.
The 50-year-old caused problems for the batters with his deceptive line and swing. Javed wasn’t as fast as the bowlers we have mentioned, but his length was upright, which is why it wasn’t easy to score runs in his bowling in the middle overs. In 22 Tests, Aaqib Javed took 54 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5/84. He took 182 wickets in 163 ODIs, with the best bowling figures of 7/37.
As we end up talking about these legends, there is another pacer who is about to fly. Yes, we are talking about none other than Shaheen Shah Afridi. The pacer has so far impressed with his pace and swing. The 22-year-old is bound to be a legend of Pakistan cricket, and in the future, we will find his name in the list along with these legendary pacers.