Pakistan fast bowler Haris Rauf, who is known for his pace, has said he can't afford to be "predictable". Rauf believes the amount of cricket that is played requires him to keep evolving around the stock balls and variations in pace, and said he wouldn't like to tone down his "natural" aggression.
"I have a clear mindset with my pace and 140+ [kph] is my average speed," Rauf said at a press conference held on Monday. "But with Waqar Younis [Pakistan's bowling coach], I think he is all in for pace, [and he] keeps on empathising [with me] while making me work on my line and length. There are so many things I am learning from him - like bowling yorkers using the crease, and he was best at it.
"I understand these days [with] the kind of cricket being played, I can't be predictable with my pace. You obviously have to keep on evolving with the other stocks. Bowling with pace is okay, but bowling slower ones with different lines are the points of discussion with Waqar bhai. I am learning in practice and applying in games."
Rauf's aggression while bowling has also often been a talking point - he became a subject of criticism for his controversial throat-slicing wicket celebration in the BBL last year - and exuberant celebrations have at times seen him part with some of his match fee.
"Aggression is important as a fast bowler and it comes naturally," Rauf said. "I am not wearing it, it's just there and I play with it. Sometimes I react, because as a bowler you get hurt when you concede a boundary. It's not like I am unhappy with the batsman, but it's basically something that I am not happy with myself.
"It's how a fast bowler works; it's just natural. I am happy the way my career is being worked out and I want to be remembered as a renewed fast bowler who has done well for this country. I am fully focused on my cricket and performances."
"I obviously haven't played cricket in New Zealand, but Waqar bhai is there with all the experience to guide me. I played some cricket in Australia last year [during the 2019-20 BBL], and pitches [here] are similar [to Australia]. [They] help pacers, but conditions [in New Zealand] are definitely cold." Haris Rauf on not having played in New Zealand before
Rauf can regularly touch the 150kph mark, with his sheer pace catching the eye of the PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars in their player-hunt program. His development became a success story instantly when he signed a BBL contract with the Melbourne Stars last year, for whom he grabbed 20 wickets in ten games, including 5 for 27 against the Hobart Hurricanes and a hat-trick against the Sydney Thunder. His elevation was quick and unorthodox, not having climbed the usual ladder of the domestic set-up.
Rauf's abilities were only discovered in 2018 by which time he was 25. A T20 specialist, he has so far played 52 T20s and taken 78 wickets at 19.37. His form led to a surprise call-up to the Pakistan side for the home T20Is against Bangladesh this January, and even made his debut in the first game in Lahore. Since then, he hasn't missed any of Pakistan's T20Is, having played all eight games and picked up 11 wickets at 23.63. With that success, his ODI debut also followed this season in the first match against Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi.
But despite his pace, Rauf says he doesn't want to be a one-dimensional fast bowler. "Pace is always a requirement in international cricket, and all I want is to maintain my pace and never let it go down," he said. "That is one thing where you always have a chance against any good batsman in the world and give him a tough time."
He is presently with the Pakistan team in New Zealand, training and making most out of the time during the 14-day quarantine period. Though Rauf has never played in New Zealand before, he is relying on the inputs provided by Younis when it comes to assessing the New Zealand pitches. He also quashed any sense of under-preparedness with the side having to deal with an extended quarantine, instead saying he got enough practice during their available sessions to work on his skills, while also discussing about the pitches and the conditions.
"I obviously haven't played cricket in New Zealand, but Waqar bhai is there with all the experience to guide me," he said. "I played some cricket in Australia last year [during the 2019-20 BBL], and pitches [here] are similar [to Australia]. [They] help pacers, but conditions [in New Zealand] are definitely cold. Following the time in quarantine, we all had a good training session and [also] three scenario-based matches in Queenstown.
"[The] time [available] wasn't as much as we [were] supposed to get, but we tried to squeeze everything within what we got and made sure we covered everything. New Zealand is a good team playing at home in their own conditions, but you will see a competitive series. I know their players... how well they play at home. But we also have a good history playing in New Zealand. We did well in the past and have the capacity to do well this time too."