March 18, 2015

Adelaide: Wasim Akram can’t wait to see six left-arm seamers in action when Australia and Pakistan clash Friday for a World Cup semi-final spot, but admits Mitchell Starc is his favourite exponent.

The Adelaide showdown promises a feast of left-arm pacemen with Australian spearhead Starc the leading wicket-taker in the World Cup with 16 victims in five matches. Feared for his pace and bounce, Mitchell Johnson has taken nine wickets while James Faulkner has three in three games since returning from a side strain on March 4.

Pakistan’s left-armers are led by Wahab Riaz (14 wickets) ably assisted by Rahat Ali (eight) and Mohammad Irfan (seven).
Pakistan will hope Irfan recovers from a hip injury which forced him to sit out their last game against Ireland on Sunday. He didn’t bowl in Tuesday’s net session and awaits a scan on the injury before being assessed for Friday. Left-arm fast bowling legend Wasim, part of the Pakistan team which won the country’s only World Cup title in 1992, said he is anxiously waiting for the showdown of lefties.

“It excites me no end,” Wasim told AFP. “When I used to play there were very few left-armers, it was a sort of novelty but imagine three on each side? I will be the most excited person at Adelaide Oval.” As many as five left-arm pacemen have played in the same one-day international, the last being in Sharjah last December when Pakistan faced New Zealand. Mitchell McClenaghan and Corey Anderson bowled for the Black Caps while Pakistan had Sohail Tanvir, Irfan and Riaz in their line-up.
Wasim said left-arm fast bowling has evolved in the last few years, with Starc his favourite exponent.

“To me Starc is the best. He has height and he swings the ball and that is why he is so successful,” said Wasim, of the 25-year-old who took a career best 6-28 in the narrow one-wicket loss to New Zealand in Auckland last month. Wasim praised New Zealand’s Trent Boult who has 15 wickets in six games. “Boult is also very good and has a good attitude towards taking wickets,” said Wasim of the New Zealand paceman. As far as the Pakistan team is concerned, Wasim said Irfan needs to work on his fitness.

“Irfan is different,” said Wasim of the 7feet, one inch paceman — the tallest man to play international cricket. “His body stretches more and needs careful handling. “Riaz has impressed me the way he bowled against Zimbabwe, then Soth Africa and Ireland, fast and with resolve,” said Wasim. “The only problem he had was with his wrist, which seemed to get locked (at the point of delivery) and that’s why he was not bringing the ball in. Now it has improved.”


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