LAHORE: For someone who’d once bowled with Australia’s feared three-pronged bowling attack of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood during a nets session, missing out on making his Test debut against them must have felt like a blow.
But Haris Rauf is backing himself to perform in the three-match One-day International against Australia which begins with the first game on Tuesday.
None of Cummins, Starc or Hazlewood, with whom Haris bowled during a training session for New South Wales during the start of his burgeoning career, are part of the Australia’s limited-overs squad, which will also play one Twenty20 International to conclude their first tour of Pakistan since 1998.
Haris would’ve gone face-to-face against the trio had he featured in the recently-concluded three-match Test series which Australia won 1-0. But after a bout of Covid-19 ruled him out of the opening Test, he wasn’t considered for the remaining two Tests.
“It is my dream to play Test cricket,” Haris told reporters during an online news conference on Sunday. “But unfortunately, I got Covid and had to sit out. When I returned from isolation, the team selection was made according to the conditions and I feel those who played did their best. I’ll take my chances when they come.”
For now, Haris’ chance will come in the ODIs where Australia are set to be without several regular players. Alongside their frontline pacers, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell are not in the squad. Batter Steven Smith was also ruled out with injury.
“Australia still have players who have considerable domestic experience in Australia, including playing in the Big Bash League as well the Sheffield Shield,” said Haris. “But we will try to utilize our home conditions and give them a tough time. We expect a good series.”
Reflecting on Pakistan’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-final loss to eventual champions Australia last year as well as the thumping defeat to Australia in the series-deciding Test in Lahore this week, Haris said that it’s part of the game.
“During the T20 World Cup, we beat several top teams in our run to the semis,” he said. “We gave our all then as well as the Test series. In a game, one team loses and the other wins. Now we’re preparing for the ODIs and will try to play good cricket.”
Having played just eight ODIs, the 28-year-old said the arrival of former Australian pacer Shaun Tait as Pakistan’s bowling coach had helped the fast bowlers. “He’s trying to improve our bowling, especially in the death overs,” he said.
Both teams held training sessions at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday with players practicing both under the sun and floodlights and Australian spinner Adam Zampa looked forward to an exciting ODI series even though he admitted his side faced a “difficult challenge” due to the absences.
“It’s going to be a difficult challenge,” Zampa told reporters during an online news conference earlier in the day. “But when this happens, it helps build depth [in the side].”
Zampa, who played a key role for Australia in their T20 World Cup triumph, informed is due to take a three-month break with his wife due to give birth in June and he’s looking to make the most of the opportunity he has in Pakistan.
“It’s pretty rare for a cricketer these days to get three months off, so I’m really going to make the most of it,” Zampa said.
With his performances, Zampa has cemented his status as one of Australia’s most important white-ball players. But he’s not taking his new role for granted.
“I feel like I don’t have to look over my shoulder too much with selection,” Zampa said. “When you’re younger, you naturally probably look over your shoulder, you doubt yourself a lot more.
“[Captain] Aaron Finch has helped me massively with my game. He backs me in when I’m out there, and he lets me run my own show with my bowling, and has been really good with his own ideas as well.
“I’ve been in this team for six years now. You never want to use the word comfortable, but I definitely back myself in a lot more these days. I can go out there and maybe experiment and put things on the line for the team to try to do my role.”
Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2022