Colombo: Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar on Thursday said the team’s current pace attack reminds him of the era of the great pair of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
Pakistan boast one of the world’s best fast-bowling attacks in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf.
The trio has taken 23 wickets between them in the first three matches of the ongoing Asia Cup co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a precursor to next month’s one-day international World Cup in India.
Left-arm pacer Shaheen rattled the Indian top order last week in a group match that was abandoned due to rain after just one innings and remains a threat ahead of a key Super Four clash between the arch-rivals on Sunday.
“These youngsters are very, very talented and I am happy that Pakistan is able to produce such fast bowlers over and over again,” Akhtar said in an online chat organised by Star Sports.
“This pace battery reminds me of the old days ... reminds me of that era of two Ws (Waqar and Wasim). They are very confident and have the mindset of taking wickets.”
Wasim and Waqar took over 900 ODI wickets between them, striking fear into the hearts of opposing batsmen with their lightning-fast reverse swing deliveries.
Shaheen leads the charge with new-ball partner Naseem, but it is first-change Rauf who tops the Asia Cup bowling chart with nine wickets.
Pakistan thrashed Bangladesh in the opening match of the Super Fours in Lahore on Wednesday with Rauf returning 4-19 from his six overs.
“I would say Shaheen Shah Afridi is on top of his career right now. Haris Rauf has a wicket-taking mindset like Shaheen,” said Akhtar, who later joined Pakistan’s pace attack alongside Wasim and Waqar.
“I would just advise Naseem to bowl more wicket-taking deliveries than be a stock bowler. He seams the ball more than Shaheen and can penetrate more.”
Pakistan has had a history of producing great fast bowlers including Fazal Mahmood, Sarfraz Nawaz and World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.
Akhtar said Pakistan remain favourites to win the Asia Cup and the World Cup starting October 5 and predicted Babar Azam’s team will topple India in both tournaments.