Faheem Ashraf is creating an impact for Pakistan quite consistently……..
Who is Faheem Ashraf? A talented fast bowler from Pakistan, who is well-known for his exploits with the bat lower down the order. Faheem typifies orthodox cricketers; an impactful fast bowler and a powerful pinch-hitter. Ashraf has earned accolades for his all-round abilities and seems to be a good pick for Pakistan’s shorter formats side. His career graph is on a hike and has scaled newer heights in the recent times. His batting has caught massive attention and is on the list of potential all-rounders in white ball cricket.
Pakistan have a well-balanced side; they won the ICC Champions Trophy last year and did well to return from the dead. There is absolutely no reason why they can’t do it again in the upcoming World Cup. They have a dominating bowling attack, that can win games in the knock-out stages. All they need is an impactful all-rounder to spice up the attack. Not just shorter formats, Pakistan does need some lower order batting in the Test line-up as well. An impactful all-rounder is the need of the hour for Pakistan across formats.
Along with Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf has also made his presence unavoidable as the future all-rounder for Pakistan. In fact, Ashraf stunned the world with a tenacious 83 against Ireland on his Test debut. Can he provide the kind of depth and flexibility Pakistan has been looking for across formats? Well, it might be a little early to judge him on that front, but the signs are there and they are promising. He is yet to prove his talent and if given a longer rope, can easily develop into an asset for Pakistan.
There aren’t much impactful fast bowling all-rounders in international cricket. A team who has it is very lucky indeed. An all-rounder not only provides stability and depth in the line-up but also opens up an extra option for the skipper, further providing flexibility. Pakistan have not played a lot of games with a four-man pace attack in the recent times, the inclusion of an all-rounder will give them the liberty to do so across formats. Talking about Test cricket, Pakistan’s lower order has failed to garner anything substantial with the bat for a while now; Ashraf can solve this problem.
Ashraf can be a third or a fourth seamer across formats, in saying so, no question is being raised on his ability to lead the bowling attack. But with him being the third seamer, Pakistan will only have more fire in their line-up. Also, a bowler of his capacity and potential will only ease off the pressure from the front-line bowlers. There won’t be a lot of breathing space for the opposition if Ashraf is playing as a third or fourth seamer. His run against Zimbabwe in the last game was exceptional, where he chipped a fifer to dismantle the side for a double-digit score.
Talking about his batting, he is a fine example of a pinch hitter, but has the ability to bat long against the red ball. While his hard-hitting abilities can turn out to be handy in the shorter formats, but his knack of scoring against the red ball can be crucial for Pakistan’s Test side. With him in the attack and provided Shadab Khan is playing, imagine the kind of depth Pakistan will have in their batting. The talent and the thought itself is exciting.
Let’s take a look at Ashraf’s domestic records. In 38 First-Class games, Ashraf averages just over 30 along with two centuries and five half-centuries. These numbers are a testament to the fact that Ashraf can bat. Although his List A numbers are not as impressive as First Class cricket, but its only about time before he betters it. With the ball, Ashraf has 110 wickets at 27.01 in first-class games while in List A cricket, he has 81 wickets in 53 games at 24.16. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that these numbers are pretty impressive.
In his last encounter against Zimbabwe, Ashraf recorded his career-best ODI figures. He ran through the Zimbabwean batting to claim his maiden fifer. The counter-argument would be that Zimbabwe were a relatively weaker side, but to chip wickets in that manner requires a special set of skills. Ashraf bowled well in England too and with age being on his side, one can only expect him to get better. The world cup is just a few months away and if there’s any right time to invest, it is now. Ashraf can evolve into a reliable all-rounder and strengthen Pakistan’s lower-order.