Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
Pakistan quick Haris Rauf will return to injury-hit Melbourne Stars in a signing coup hoped to bolster their inexperienced attack, which copped a hammering against two-time defending champion Sydney Sixers in the BBL season opener.
Having originally caught the eye bowling at speeds over 90mph/145kph for Lahore Qalanders, Rauf enjoyed worldwide attention during the 2019-20 BBL season, where he quickly became a fan favourite after claiming 20 wickets from 10 matches.
Admirably filling the shoes of an injured Dale Steyn, he consistently bowled with great pace to become a talisman for Stars and a headliner in the competition highlighted by a famous hat-trick against Sydney Thunder in his MCG debut.
Those heroics powered him into Pakistan's national team and he made his international debut during a T20 match against Bangladesh in January 2020. He has played eight ODIs and 32 T20Is overall and was a key cog in Pakistan's strong T20 World Cup campaign with eight wickets from six matches.
Rauf did struggle during his brief appearance for Stars last season with just one wicket from three matches. However, he's hoped to shore up an attack that leaked 213 runs from 20 overs against a ruthless Sixers at the SCG in the biggest defeat in the competition's history.
Missing towering quick Billy Stanlake, fellow quick Liam Hatcher and Marcus Stoinis, the Stars deployed an inexperienced attack featuring debutants Sam Elliott, Brody Couch and young spinner Syed Faridoun, who like Rauf hails from Lahore Qalanders.
"We can't wait to see Haris Rauf back at the Stars. His addition brings experience, energy and quality to our fast-bowling stocks," Stars coach David Hussey said.
Rauf is set to make his season debut against Brisbane Heat on December 27 and will be available for the rest of the tournament.
In the meantime, Stars will be out to rebound against Sydney Thunder in their home opener at the MCG on Friday.