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Rana Naved-ul-Hasan: Pakistan’s journeyman pacer who had a mixed international career

Rana Naved ul Hasan enjoyed most of his international success against India © Getty Images
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan enjoyed most of his international success against India © Getty Images

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, born on February 28, 1978, is a former Pakistani medium-fast bowler. Naved is a journeyman as he has played for various domestic teams, especially in Twenty20s, around the world. He had a mixed and short international career. Shrikant Shankar looks back at his career.

Bowling action

Very few bowlers have brilliant-looking bowling actions. Many great bowlers didn’t have actions that would look absolutely smooth. Rana Naved-ul-Hasan is one such bowler whose action was the best part of his bowling. He would run in like anyone else, but as he approached his bowling stride, Naved would slant slightly and bowl side on. He has a sling-like action, but at the point of delivery, his hand would almost be perpendicular to the ground. Naved would bend his body to generate a bit of bounce as well. He could swing the ball both ways and get it to reverse as well. He probably had one of the best slower deliveries in world cricket around the mid-2000s.

The video below showcases Naved’s knack of getting top-quality batsmen out with slower deliveries when they are in full flow. Virender Sehwag was thundering away at all Pakistan bowlers in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Karachi on March 13, 2004. Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami and Naved were getting hammered by Sehwag. He had just hit a six off Naved, when the bowler bowled a brilliant slower delivery and got him bowled.

Competition for places

Throughout Naved’s career, he had to compete with the likes of Akhtar, Sami, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer and Abdul Razzaq. Pakistan are always blessed with fast bowlers and many of the above mentioned bowlers are genuine quick bowlers. Naved was not as quick as them and that often resulted in him not playing in the Pakistan XI. He made his debut for Pakistan only after a disastrous ICC World Cup 2003 campaign. Pakistan were one of the early favourites, but exited the tournament in the group stages itself. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were dropped and they eventually retired. This gave Naved an entry to the Pakistan team.

But Naved was quite expensive in his early career. In search of swing, he bowled fuller and got hit for plenty. But even then, he was a wicket-taker. He also had a lot of disciplinary issues and was in and out of the team. He became a regular in the Pakistan ODI setup towards the end of 2004. Injuries and indifferent form of the other pacers helped Naved get more chances to play. And he took those opportunities with both hands. He had a sequence of taking at least one wicket in 19 ODIs out of 20 from January 28, 2005 to February 6, 2006. That was 46 wickets in that period.

Best bowling

In between that run came Naved’s best bowling analysis in an ODI. He picked up six wickets for 27 runs against India in the third ODI at Jamshedpur on April 9, 2005. Pakistan had posted 319 for nine in their 50 overs. The Indian innings did not begin on a bright note as Naved destroyed the batting line-up. He picked up wickets at the top, the middle and the tail to help Pakistan win the match by 106 runs.

Favourite oppositions

Naved played in 74 ODIs and took 110 wickets at an average of 29.28. More than half those wickets came against India and West Indies. He picked up 33 wickets against India in 16 ODIs and 26 wickets against West Indies in 13 ODIs. That is 59 wickets against just two oppositions.

Test and T20I career

Although he was very impressive in the ODIs, Naved could not translate that form into the Test arena. He only played nine Tests and took 18 wickets at an average of 58. His best bowling figures are three for 30 against England at Faisalabad in November 2005. His last Test for Pakistan came against South Africa at Centurion in January 2007. Naved also played only four T20Is for Pakistan. He picked up five wickets only.

Selection and ban

Naved was selected in Pakistan’s squad for the ICC World Cup 2007 in the Caribbean. He played in the opening match against West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica on March 13. He went wicket-less as Pakistan lost the match by 54 runs. Naved was dropped for their second match against Ireland. Pakistan lost that as well and exited the World Cup from the group stages for a second time running. Naved was dropped from the team and not given a central contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in mid-2007.

He then joined the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and played for the Lahore Badshahs. He helped them win the 2008 title. Once he stopped playing for the ICL in 2009, he was given a central contract by the PCB. He was selected in the Pakistan squad for the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 in South Africa. Then came the ill-fated tour of Australia in 2009-10. Pakistan had already lost the three-match Test series 3-0. This included the famous Sydney Test where Pakistan dropped a series of catches in Australia’s second innings. They then had to chase only 176 runs to win the match. But were bowled out for 139 as Australia won by 36 runs.

Then the ODI series ensued. Naved was part of the ODI squad and played in all the five matches. Pakistan, though, lost the series 5-0. Naved returned with only six wickets. Pakistan also lost the only T20I, thus losing all nine international matches in their tour. There was also the infamous ball-biting incident of Afridi. The PCB had an enquiry after the disastrous tour and Naved was one of the players who was banned for one year. The PCB lifted his ban later on, but that would be the final time Naved would play for Pakistan.

Journeyman

Naved has played for a series of domestic teams around the world, especially in T20 tournaments. Some of his foreign teams include Dhaka Gladiators, Herefordshire, Derbyshire, Hobart Hurricanes, Sussex, Tasmania, Yorkshire and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). His highlight was probably the hat-trick he took for Tasmania against South Australia in the 2009-10 Twenty20 Big Bash League on January 12, 2010.

Naved is a very talented bowler, but fierce competition for places, disciplinary issues and selection controversies cut his international career short. But on his day, he could get the best batsmen out with some great deliveries.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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