Haris Rauf was plucked from relative obscurity by the Pakistan Super League side Lahore Qalandars and is now enjoying a dream debut season where he is the leading wicket-taker for the PSL franchise.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Haris spoke about his progress in the ongoing fourth edition of the PSL, his rise from a budding fast-bowler to a mainstay of the Lahore Qalandars’ bowling attack, the experience of playing under the captaincy of AB de Villiers and his aspirations to represent Pakistan at the 2019 World Cup.
By Amir Husain (1st March, 2019)
PakPassion.net: How would you describe the PSL tournament for yourself so far?
Haris Rauf: PSL 2019 has been an excellent tournament for me so far in terms of my performances. I have earned praise for my efforts from many people and most importantly, I'm gaining confidence from every match I play for Lahore Qalandars. I have had some fantastic support from the team management, especially from Sameen Rana and some really great trust has been shown in my abilities by our team director and head coach, Aaqib Javed which is something I will never forget. PakPassion.net: Playing for Lahore Qalandars in Pakistan’s premier Twenty20 tournament must be a great achievement for you?
Haris Rauf: I feel that I am lucky that I am playing in a top-class competition like the PSL and this is really like a dream which has come true for me. I have come through the Lahore Qalandars Player Development Program and only started playing proper cricket with the Lahore Qalandars and I am really enjoying myself in the side. Of course, it’s not been an easy ride for me as I had to work very hard to get to this stage but once again, I am thankful to Lahore Qalandars as they sent me to Australia and have looked after me so well. I am pleased to say that whatever I have learnt from my experience, I am applying in the PSL and the performances are there for all to see.
PakPassion.net: Your rise from a person of ordinary means to one of Lahore Qalandars top bowlers this season must be a great example for others in similar positions?
Haris Rauf: Indeed, I have come through some tough times but my advice to all youngsters is that you too can succeed like me even if you have not been blessed with financial resources and the right connections which sometimes can give you a chance to play top-level cricket. The Lahore Qalandars Player Development Program is an ideal platform for any player who can show the right talent and has the skills needed to succeed at the highest level of the game. Such a player through this program can go to Australia, play in the PSL and also possibly play for Pakistan in the future. If there are youngsters who look at the Lahore Qalandars trials with some doubts, where they feel that they will never be noticed and not get selected then I have some advice for them which is simply that if you have the talent, you will be spotted, selected and if they are looking for an example, then they don’t need to look any further than me.PakPassion.net: What has the experience been like of playing in the same team as AB de Villiers?
Haris Rauf: Ever since I started to take an interest in cricket, I have always admired two batsmen above any others. One is Virat Kohli and the other is AB de Villers. I was extremely fortunate that I got to bowl at Virat Kohli in the nets during India’s recent visit to Australia. That experience was amazing in itself as I got to learn a few things and he also gave me some tips which have been very useful for me. Similarly, playing under the captaincy of AB de Villiers is also very useful as he is giving me so much confidence and is showing me how to read the game and is making us all very mentally strong. It's an absolute pleasure playing under the captaincy of AB de Villiers.PakPassion.net: How does it feel to be bowling to some of the world's top batsmen during the PSL?
Haris Rauf: As we know, PSL is almost like an international tournament as the quality of cricket as well as the players who are involved in it is absolutely top class. When you play in such a tournament, you have to be at the top of your game as you are bowling against international players from overseas as well from Pakistan and you will only succeed if you have the confidence to bowl against them. One really has to believe in oneself and to know that a good ball will get a wicket, regardless of the reputation of the batsmen one is bowling to. I suppose I am focused on the objective of bowling well and the Almighty is rewarding me by allowing me to take wickets in such a top-quality tournament.PakPassion.net: Based on your current performances in the PSL, do you feel you are now ready to play international cricket?
Haris Rauf: I have been playing some very good quality cricket for almost a year and a half, and I have put in a lot of effort during this period of time. To me, the quality and standard of cricket that we see in the PSL is pretty similar to what one would find in international cricket. I feel that if I am given a chance to play for Pakistan, I will have no real difficulty in playing international cricket, God Willing.PakPassion.net: So, in your view, PSL is close enough to international cricket in terms of standards?
Haris Rauf: Of course, I am yet to play an international game but based upon what I have observed, there appears to be no real difference in international games and what we see being played here in the PSL in terms of standards and the level of intensity. By all accounts, the pressure that one encounters during PSL is very similar to what one faces during international games and if one can succeed in the PSL, then playing for the country becomes that much easier as well.PakPassion.net: Are you hoping to be selected for the Pakistan squad for the 2019 World Cup?
Haris Rauf: It would be a dream come true to play in the World Cup, but it is really down to the selectors to decide if they feel that I am suitable enough for the Pakistan squad for the World Cup this summer. If they think that I have the abilities and skills which are a good fit for the side, then I will be more than happy to play for my country if given a chance to do that. My chances for selection as well as my preparation for the road ahead are based upon the advice I am receiving and will be given by Aaqib Javed and Sameen Rana. Lahore Qalandars have been kind enough to sign me up for a contract for 10 years and I will always be indebted to them for putting their trust in me, and I hope to repay their trust by following their guidance in the future.PakPassion.net: How do you feel about playing alongside another very talented fast-bowler in the shape of Shaheen Shah Afridi?
Haris Rauf: It's absolutely amazing bowling alongside Shaheen Shah Afridi and I feel we are a good bowling pair as we have bowled well together during the PSL. Even for someone so young, Shaheen has a lot of advice to offer to me which I have found very useful. He is a senior player compared to myself and he has also played at the international level for Pakistan, so I am learning a lot from him as well. Throughout the games we have played together for Lahore, Shaheen has always been by my side to give me tips and I try and put into practice whatever he tells me. On top of that Shaheen Shah Afridi is also a good friend and I really enjoy playing alongside him at all times.