KARACHI, May 28: The resounding success of Pakistan’s paceman Sohail Tanvir in the high-profile Indian Premier League (IPL) has set off a debate whether the youngster has it in him to follow in the footsteps of great Wasim Akram.

Sohail, the only Pakistan player to stand out in the IPL, continued his excellent form for Rajasthan Royals in the league on Monday, capturing four wickets in a match against Mumbai Indians to play a crucial role in his team’s thrilling win.

He has been outstanding in the IPL bagging highest number of wickets (21) so far with the best economy and strike rate. Sohail praiseworthy performances helped Rajasthan Royals – the pre-tournament underdogs – qualify for the semi-finals, while other big Pakistani names have struggled in the IPL.

“He (Sohail) has a unique bowling action which is a big help for him. Plus, like every good pace bowler, he has pace and swing,” former Test captain Rashid Latif said.

Recalling Sohail’s entry into the Pakistan squad, chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said: “It was Wasim who first saw him in a camp and recommended his name to us and the board.”

On the other hand, Wasim believes it is too early to have high hopes from Sohail.

“No doubt he is a good bowler and has plenty of potential. But I don’t think one should put too much stress on the IPL performances. To be a good bowler, he has to perform in Test cricket,” Wasim noted.

“He has to improve and start delivering in Test cricket. Only then can we consider him a world-class bowler, but he has shown signs that he can do it,” he added.

Wasim, a benchmark in the world of high-quality fast bowling, also believes Sohail’s exposure to Twenty20 played at the grassroots level in Pakistan had helped him cope with the IPL pressure and develop good balls for death overs.

“That is one advantage our players have — exposure of this type of instant cricket at home.”

Salahuddin says Sohail has a lot of talent but he is still nowhere near class of Wasim or Waqar Younis, saying: “They were great bowlers and to reach their stature he has to perform consistently well in all types of cricket and maintain his form and fitness.”

Meanwhile, Sohail said conditions and tracks in Pakistan and India are almost similar.

“So I am used to it. I have stuck to basics from very beginning and didn’t try anything fancy,” he said.

“I believe, in Twenty20 you have only four overs to bowl and you cannot afford to make any experiments. One bad over can swing fate of match. I have always tried to bowl to my strengths and never got scared when hit for consecutive boundaries.”

Sohail further said skipper Shane Warne as been absolutely fascinating.

“He has all ingredients of a great captain. You can say Warne is bringing out the best in me. To sum up, I have been used best by him,” Sohail stated.

He said playing for Pakistan is a big honour as “I represent the country. But that doesn’t mean that I will not put my 100 per cent effort while playing for Rajasthan Royals.

“It’s also special feeling for me. But everyone who has seen me would know that even in club cricket I give my best.”

He also said that Wasim has been an example for him.

“Of course Wasim! He has been my role model. I try to emulate him,” he expressed. “I recently attended PCB’s pace bowlers camp in Lahore for about two weeks during which I learnt a lot about the art of swing bowling.

“Wasim’s pieces of advice came at the right time as I was preparing to bowl in this Twenty20 competition where I would bowl to masters of the game.”—Agencies

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