Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf, who made his first-class debut in 2017, has left the Melbourne Stars facing an almighty selection dilemma. Rauf, who was brought in as a replacement for the injured South African pacer Dale Steyn, cemented himself as the Big Bash League's newest hero with a fiery 4-over spell. He ended up with figures of 5/27, becoming the Big Bash's leading wicket-taker so far.
Haris Rauf spearheaded the Stars' 52-run demolition of the Hobart Hurricanes on Sunday. His stunning performance comes just two days after he took 2-20 on debut in their win over the Brisbane Heat. Because of his heroics and ability to bowl at 150 km/hour on a consistent basis, fans have compared him to former Pakistani pacer Shoaib Akhtar by calling him the 'New Rawalpindi Express'. It is interesting to see if the Stars retain Rauf for their upcoming games as they are likely to have the injured pace duo of Dale Steyn and Nathan Coulter-Nile available for selection ahead of their next match on Friday against Adelaide Strikers.
The 26-year-old hadn't played professional cricket until a couple of years ago when he was plucked by Pakistan Super League team Lahore Qalandars. Ironically, Rauf went to Hobart to train with the Hurricanes as part of a deal that the club has with the Qalandars. He featured in Tasmanian Premier Cricket with Glenorchy and would have remained on standby for the Hurricanes before the Stars roped him in last week. The right-arm pacer also had a spell with Sydney grade club Western Suburbs last year. In the post-match conference, Rauf said that he was hoping to represent Pakistan in international cricket someday through teammate Sandeep Lamichhane as the Nepal leg-spinner acted as his translator.
Rauf celebrated each of his five wickets against Hobart and finished the day on a touching note by signing the match ball and gifting it to a security guard. On his sweet gesture, the pacer told cricket.com.au that he presented the ball to the guard, who is originally from India. When Rauf arrived at the ground, he reportedly told the guard that he was from Pakistan. It made the guard so emotional that he was left in tears and hugged him subsequently for the sweet gesture.