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Farooqi: 'Whatever I am doing with the new ball, that is my skill'

Farooqi has led Afghanistan's charge in the T20 World Cup, moving the ball both ways to have the batters in trouble

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
14-Jun-2024
You can't see me: Fazalhaq Farooqi channels his inner John Cena, Afghanistan vs PNG, T20 World Cup, Group C, Trinidad, June 13, 2024

You can't see me: Fazalhaq Farooqi channels his inner John Cena  •  ICC via Getty Images

Fazalhaq Farooqi has shrugged off two months on the bench at the IPL to lead the bowling charts early in T20 World Cup 2024. His combined figures across three matches are 12 for 42 in 11.2 overs and he believes that working with Dwayne Bravo will help him to deliver when the pressure is on Afghanistan in the Super Eight.
Farooqi's left-arm angle has proved lethal with the new ball; he swings it both ways and can also nip it off the seam. Seven of his 12 wickets, including two in two balls against PNG on Tuesday, at this World Cup have come in the powerplay - the most by any bowler in the first six overs - setting up a seven-wicket win which assured Afghanistan's place in the second round.
Those two wickets highlighted his skill, and his ability to move the ball both ways. Both pitched on a good length in the off-stump channel but where the first shaped back a touch to take the shoulder of Lega Siaka's bat, the second moved into the left-hander Sese Bau to kiss his inside edge. On both occasions, Rahmanullah Gurbaz took excellent diving catches behind the stumps.
"For me, my mentality is simple," Farooqi told reporters in Tarouba. "Whenever I was playing in Under-19 or Under-16, I thought: I'm not the big man. I'm not someone big and tall and bowling very fast. At that time, I was just thinking to improve my skill to do something different from the others… I was going to learn to bowl swing and that now for me is simple."
Farooqi did not play a match for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season and quickly turned his attention to the World Cup when he realised he would spend the IPL running drinks. "Unfortunately I didn't get any chance to play in IPL but I was working on my skill, to improve my skill to do better for Afghanistan," he said. "I just try to give my hundred percent and just back my skill."
He has worked closely with Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan's bowling coach, but also has a long-standing relationship with Bravo, who is with them as a bowling consultant for this World Cup. They have played several seasons of franchise cricket together in the UAE, for both Delhi Bulls (Abu Dhabi T10) and MI Emirates (ILT20), and Farooqi has regularly picked Bravo's brains.
He said that Bravo's influence on Afghanistan's seamers would become apparent when they bowl at the death in pressure situations. "DJ Bravo, I am with him from last four years. I'm playing every time in the same team… he just wants to give to us some tips for how we bowl in the death, how we bowl in the crucial situations. He is everyone's mentor.
"He's an old-ball bowler, for the death. But whatever I'm doing with the new ball, that's my skill. He just supports me. He says, 'you're doing good' and that's the main thing, if you got some support from the senior players… He's giving me [tips], especially in the death, how should I bowl in the pressure time, how should I use the slower ball, how should I use the length ball."
Rashid Khan, Afghanistan's captain, singled Farooqi out for praise, comparing his impact with the ball to Gurbaz's influence with the bat. "It's very important to have someone like him. In the batting unit, you have the top order who go there like Gurbaz and smash it from the first ball," Rashid said. "It's the same with the bowling unit as well.
"He's giving me [tips], especially in the death, how should I bowl in the pressure time, how should I use the slower ball, how should I use the length ball."
Farooqi on his exchanges with Dwayne Bravo
"Someone like Fazal, who is coming in and attacking each and every ball, that allows us to have a strong base as a bowling unit. And then it does help you in the middle overs as well if you get a couple of wickets… We are lucky to have him on the side [because he] gives us the best start with the new ball and then makes the job a little bit easier in the middle."
Jonathan Trott, Afghanistan's head coach, believes there is more to come from Farooqi. "He's been really good," Trott said. "I think when he gets his line and with the pace and the swing, he's very dangerous. I still think with the amount of talent, I still think he can even bowl better. I still think there's even better bowling in him: he's that talented."
Afghanistan face West Indies in St Lucia on Monday before heading into a Super Eight group that will also feature India and Australia. It is a daunting task, but Farooqi said that their recent successes - both against New Zealand in Guyana last week, and at last year's 50-over World Cup - means that they believe they can beat anyone.
"Before, we were a little bit pressurised," he said. "We just thought we can't win the match against the full member teams or the biggest national teams. But when we won the matches in 2023 ODI World Cup, we now have found some confidence. Now everyone has belief in our skills… This is the first time we just qualify for the Super Eight and we are so happy. Back home, every people are happy and proud of us."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98