It’s a high-voltage fixture. Defending champions Islamabad United win the toss and opt to field first against an in-form Karachi Kings side in the second play-off of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
The Karachi openers start off strong as Babar Azam and Chris Gayle put up a 35-run partnership in five overs and United are already under pressure. Misbah-ul-Haq, their captain, hands the ball to Rumman Raees for his second over.
Rumman has a job to do. He needs to get the men on fire before they can further minimize United’s hopes to go through.
The left-armer bowls the first three balls, concedes just three. Babar steals a single to escape Rumman’s suffocating length, line and variations. He had to trust Gayle, the big man, to handle the medium-fast bowler better.
Rumman to Gayle — length ball on middle, Gayle goes deep in his crease, gets under the ball and puts it into orbit over the square leg region. Six it is!
Pressure is back on the bowler.
Next ball, Gayle looks for a repeat of the slog over square leg, but this time Rumman bowls it fuller, and pitches it outside off stump as well. In dragging the ball, Gayle gets an inside edge onto his stumps. The umpires check for the no-ball. It’s all fine.
Rumman doesn’t move, this has to be a moment worth celebrating, but no, the man of the moment prefers to stay on earth.
“In Twenty20, you may have taken a wicket now but the next ball you can be hit for a six or a four; you could turn from a hero to a villain in a space of a few deliveries,” says Rumman, reasoning his unique celebration in an interview for Pakpassion.net
“So, in my view there is no point of showing aggression after getting a batsman out as you never know what’s around the corner,” adds the 25-year-old.
Karachi Kings were the eventual winners of the match after United’s devastatingly unsuccessful run chase of just 127 runs. Mohammad Amir, another left-armer did some banter as he dismissed Rumman to mark an end to the day’s proceedings, copying his celebration.
Rumman enjoyed it, as he believes it’s the fun part that makes T20 cricket special.
“When he imitated my celebration, I smiled at him and he smiled back so it was all great fun which is what Twenty20 cricket is all about,” he says.
“Make no mistake, Amir and I are excellent friends and he has been a great supporter for me and he has always shared his knowledge and experience with me,” adds Rumman.
“Well for one thing, I was happy that my style of celebration was so good and popular that others have also started to copy it.”
NO BETTER TEACHER THAN WASIM
It is not only his celebration that got him popularity, Rumman has skill which he has kept improving and the recently concluded PSL season witnessed it all.
In seven outings for the Islamabad outfit, the left-armer took 12 wickets and was the third highest wicket-taker in the colourful event.
It’s not all about the number of wickets for Rumman. The Karachi-born cricketer has the knack of keeping batsmen quiet and choking them for runs. An ability which made him end the PSL 2 with an impressive economy of 6.19.
The performance has got a lot to do with improvements in Rumman’s bowling action, which resulted in better line and length. This, however, did not come without guidance. And when your guide is none other than Wasim Akram, the outcome is top-notch.
“I think an important factor in my improved performance was the advice I received from Wasim Akram,” says Rumman.
“He advised me last year to fix issues with my bowling action but I would also like to give credit to my UBL coach, Umar Rashid who has worked tirelessly to help me in improving my bowling action.”
“If you look at my action from last year’s PSL, you will see a big difference. I used to have a high-arm action and my accuracy was all over the place. This year, I had much more control over line and length and that is purely due to a positive change in my bowling action.”
THE PAKISTAN SPOT
Rumman, who burst onto the cricketing scene in the inaugural PSL season, could not make it to the Pakistan side then.
The left-armer’s name, however, is there in the 31-player preliminary squad for the upcoming tour of West Indies — the training camp currently underway in Lahore.
This time Rumman’s hopes are high.
“I am as hopeful as ever,” he says
“I did make my international debut for Pakistan against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in September last year so I am hoping that will count for something as well.”
Rumman has not yet shown promise to bowl with blistering pace — a Pakistan legacy. The bowler, however, knows that he needs to get better in that department too — and has been working on it.
“In the inaugural PSL season I was bowling at pace around 130 kph but this year I’ve raised the bar to 134-135,” he said while addressing media during the camp on Tuesday.
“I’m working harder to be able to bowl at 140-plus pace,” added Rumman.
Pakistan play West Indies in four T20s, three ODIs and three Test matches in a tour which kicks off March 26.
Rumman said he will, for the time being, focus on making it to the final squad for the shortest format.
“I’m currently focusing on the T20s,” he said.