DUBAI: The emergence of Lahore Qalandars’ Haris Rauf is a fairytale in itself as he rose from an unknown lad to a newest sensation in the HBL Pakistan Super League.
The 25-year-old loves to bowl fast, but had never bowled with a red or white leather ball before he was picked up from nowhere in the trials in Gujranwala in 2017.
“He came for the trials in Gujranwala in September 2017 and when he delivered the first ball, the speed gun showed 92.3mph. We could not believe, so we asked him to bowl again and it was of the same speed,” recalls Lahore Qalandars’ team manager Rana Sameen.
“We engaged him for the Australia tour in the development squad and invited Kyle Mills [England fast bowler] and Grant Elliott [New Zealand all-rounder] as coaches. When we asked Kyle about how good Haris was, he replied that he couldn’t stop his laughter when he asked Haris about the difference between a tennis ball and a hard bowl, Haris reply was that ‘hard balls are heavier!”
Haris impressed with his bowling in a multi-national Twenty20 tournament in Abu Dhabi last year when he bowled Lahore to the title by defending 19 in the last over in the final against South Africa’s Titans.
On Saturday, Haris announced his arrival in the derby PSL game against Karachi Kings with figures of 4-23 in four overs. In tandem with Shaheen Shah Afridi — who took 2-20 — Haris destroyed Karachi to help Lahore defend a modest 139-run target.
“It’s a reward for hard work I put in, the coaching staff headed by Aaqib Javed and the owners of Lahore team had done,” said Haris. “I love to bowl fast. In fact my goal is to bowl the fastest delivery in the PSL and, God willing, if I do well play the World Cup for Pakistan.”
Hailing from Rawalpindi, Haris worked part-time in a shop as a salesman. He would earn just 250 rupees a day and some more bucks from playing tape ball cricket for various clubs. He was a man-in-demand for club cricket.
“I had never thought that I would play for Lahore one day and all credit goes to Lahore Qalandars for tapping my talent,” said Haris.
When Haris started playing in streets the sternest of opposition came from home. His father, a government servant, would throw away his trophies, asking him to concentrate on studies.
“My family was always against me playing cricket. Some of the trophies I won were thrown away as my parents wanted me to become an engineer or a doctor, but I used to run away and play cricket. Finally I have achieved my initial goals,” he recalled.
Aaqib, who played 22 Tests and 163 ODIs for Pakistan, believes Haris can go places.
“Haris has the talent to go places,” said Aaqib. “I am very confident that he can break Shoaib Akhtar’s record of fastest bowling. He has the potential and the ability to become one of the fastest bowlers in the world.”
The new Rawalpindi express has reached PSL stations and promises to travel to international destinations soon.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019