Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Waqar Younis, The Toe Crusher - Pakistani Fast Bowling Greats

As I have written in my previous posts, I am a self-proclaimed fan of the fast bowlers that Pakistan seem to produce on a conveyor belt that seems impossible to stop. In the last post I wrote about the legendary left arm pace bowler, Wasim Akram and in this post I will write about his better half at the bowling crease, Waqar Younis. Lovingly known as the ‘Two W’s’ together they were to rule opposition batsmen right through the 1990’s striking fear in to them.

Waqar Younis

Like Wasim, Waqar too was spotted at a local match and it was the great Imran Khan who was impressed. Waqar made his test debut in 1989, in the same match as Sachin Tendulkar made his debut. He was genuinely quick and made an immediate impression by picking up 4 wickets in that drawn match.

Waqar was lethal with his high speed and the fact that he loved to keep the ball full and on the stumps while swinging it late made him an extremely difficult customer to face. He was also a master proponent of the reverse swing and had the ability to find prodigious reverse with an old ball. Late banana in swinging deliveries delivered at express pace made him unplayable.

Waqar played a total of 87 tests in which he picked up 373 wickets at a stunning average of 43! He claimed 416 wickets in the 262 ODI’s that he played with his high impact pace bowling.

He was embroiled in several controversies during his playing years most relating to accusations which claimed that he tempered the cricket ball so as to make it reverse. He was also banned in the year 2000 for the said offense. He was also the captain of the Pakistan team during their disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa in 2003 when they failed to even qualify for the super six stage having won games only against the associate nations. He was dumped thereafter along with many senior players including Wasim Akram.

He was a Fantastico character and he has continued to serve Pakistan cricket by imparting his skills as a coach and nurturing the current fast bowling talents in Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz.

Waqar’s ability to move the ball colossally in the air and the fact that he targeted the base of the leg stump almost always succeeded in getting the batsman in an ungainly tangle. Delivering toe crushing yorkers at top speed was his speciality and hence he was also nick named ‘The Toe Crusher’. Lasith Malinga, the deadly Sri Lankan fast bowler who is known for his toe crushing yorkers once said that he learnt the art of delivering high speed toe crushers by watching Waqar in action. Waqar could not have got a better tribute than that!

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