DUBAI: After Haris Rauf had stifled India’s power-hitters in the T20 World Cup last year, one of his old tweets had gone viral. Back in 2019, he had tweeted a photo with Virat Kohli following a nets session in Australia.
Bowling session with virat kohli❤️❤️ https://t.co/rbvI9KRROM
— Haris Rauf (@HarisRauf14) 1546391018000
Last Sunday, after India defeated Pakistan, Kohli gifted him his shirt. “I had requested him for his shirt long ago. It felt nice,” the Pakistan pacer said in his baritone voice on Saturday.
The match may be over but moments like these shine bright ✨👌A heartwarming gesture by @imVkohli as he hands over… https://t.co/uI0fUkFAVA
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1661776425000
The build-up has been all around the fellowship between these two teams. Rauf said: ” Game ko game ki tarah lete hain (We treat a games like a game). The way Virat bhai has performed for his country, he is a legend. You get to learn a lot of things talking to him, as you would do from any senior. I thank him for giving me his shirt and talking to me.”
His rustic demeanour and bustling run-up are no indication of how precise he is with his plans when he runs in to bowl in T20s. Rauf is clear about his role: control India’s powerful middle-order in the middle overs. “My mindset isn’t to get wickets,” he said.
“My endeavour is to bowl as many dot balls as possible. In T20s, the more you defend with the ball, the higher the chances of getting wickets. You have certain plans for players from different teams. We do have something planned. When you are bowling at the death, you decide whether to bowl more slower balls or yorkers depending on the pitch,” Rauf said.
Rauf added: “Against a quality player like Suryakumar Yadav or Hardik Pandya, you try to stick to your strengths. We will try to figure out their weak zone and keep bowling there.”
Rauf’s emergence has come in the shadow of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s rise as one of the world’s top all-format pacers. Rauf doesn’t shy away from conceding that he feeds off Afridi’s potency with the new ball. In Afridi’s absence, Rauf essentially becomes the lead bowler.
“Shaheen would invariably get early wickets. That gives me a lot of confidence when I come on to bowl. Partnerships are important in bowling as well. I have been playing with Shaheen for a while. I am usually relaxed when Shaheen is around,” he said.
Pakistan, incidentally, did not practice on the eve of their match against India. Their bowling attack has been struggling with bouts of cramps. They are cooling their heels but Rauf has made it clear they have their plans ready.
How India and Pakistan have fared at the Asia Cup