A left-arm pacer in Pakistan colours ripping apart the opposition’s top-order is a usual sight. But the cricket world was taken by a storm on Monday afternoon when Usman Khan Shinwari’s searing opening spell reduced Sri Lanka to 8/4 within first four overs of the match.
The fast-bowler ended the innings with his maiden five-fer, taken within 21 balls, in only his second ODI.
Shinwari made his one-day debut for Pakistan on Friday and was quick to leave a mark when he removed the in-form Upul Tharanga with a ferocious in dipper with only the second ball of his ODI career. Although that went down as his only wicket of the match, his incredible wrist and intriguing lengths promised something extraordinary on the cards.
Days after Sarfraz Ahmed claimed his bowling attack to be the best in the world, Shinwari did his captain proud by eviscerating the Sri Lankan top-order in the absence of the established new-ball bowlers – Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan.
To say Shinwari was unplayable might be an understatement. He made a mockery out of the Lankan batsmen, one by one, as he came from wide off the crease and moved the ball prodigiously into them at considerable pace.
Asked to bowl the first over of the match, Shinwari removed Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dinesh Chandimal in succession on the last two balls of the first over. He then got rid of Sri Lankan captain Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella in his next over, which crushed Sri Lankan hopes of avoiding their third 5-0 whitewash this year.
Soon Shinwari became the third quickest - since 2001, in terms of deliveries taken - to bag a five-wicket haul, when Milinda Siriwardana handed an easy catch to cover while driving on the up.
“My father forced me to play cricket” - AFP
Shinwari was scouted by Khan Research Laboratories for their inter-department Under-19 team in 2011. Two years later, he made his first-class debut for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
The Landi Kotal-born pacer made his Pakistan debut in a T20I against Sri Lanka two months after his first-class debut. He bowled only one over that match and conceded nine runs.
Shinwari was signed by Karachi Kings for the second edition of the Pakistan Super League. He, however, failed to impress in the eight matches he played taking only six wickets - half of them coming in one match - at an average of over 33.
It was his father who introduced him to the game of cricket, as Shinwari revealed in the post-match ceremony saying, "My father used to force me to play cricket".
An unbelievable opening spell!
Shinwari rattled Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), one of the most daunting batting line-ups back then, during the final of the inter-department T20 tournament at Gaddafi Stadium in 2013 with the first five-wicket haul of his career.
Just like the spell against Sri Lanka, Shinwari struck twice in the first over of the innings, as, Mohammad Rizwan and Taufeeq Umar registered two-ball ducks. He picked up two more wickets – Ali Waqas and Misbah ul Haq – in his second over and later removed no.11 Samiullah Khan to complete incredible figures of 5/9.
He was already on selectors’ radar and the performance removed all the doubts in their minds about his capability.
The writer tweets @ahsannagi