The top 5 best Pakistan bowlers of all-time

Wasim Akram is the best Pakistan bowler of all-time, due to his outstanding ODI and Test record.
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Who are the greatest Pakistani bowlers ever?

Pakistan has been very lucky to have had some amazing bowling options throughout their history. The nation has always prided themselves on their fast-bowling and spin-bowling talent. Indeed, this has helped them win all three ICC tournaments at least once. The best Pakistan bowlers of all-time are a mixture of pace and slow options.

The likes of Aaqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmed and Sarfaraz Nawaz can count themselves unlucky to be excluded from this list. All three have made significant contributions for the country in the past. From the current crop of bowlers, the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Yasir Shah could both make a strong case in the future to be included on this list.

So, who makes the top 5?

5. Saqlain Mushtaq

Saqlain Mushtaq bowling for Pakistan during the World Cup Semi Final between New Zealand and Pakistan at Old Trafford, Manchester, 16th June 1999. The umpire is Darrell Hair. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Saqlain Mushtaq is perhaps best known for pioneering the Doosra – a delivery that spins away from the right-hander, bowled by an off-spinner. This meant that off-spinners became attacking again, at a time when they were fading out of the game. In fact, his ODI record is prolific – 288 wickets at a bowling average of 21.79. He is arguably the best ODI spinner in the history of the format.

Mushtaq was also a good test bowler, who complimented Pakistan’s pace attack beautifully. He picked up 208 Test wickets at a bowling average of 29.84. He averaged below 30 with the ball in India, England, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and in Pakistan.

Saqlain Mushtaq is number five on our list of “Best Pakistan bowlers of all-time.”

4. Abdul Qadir

Abdul Qadir is the best Pakistan spin bowler of all-time in Test.
Abdul Qadir bowling for Pakistan during the 3rd Test match between England and Pakistan at Headingley, Leeds, 2nd July 1987. The non-striking batsman for England is Ian Botham and the umpire is Ken Palmer. Pakistan won the match by an innings and 18 runs. (Photo by Ken Kelly/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

At a time when there were hardly any world-class spin bowlers, Abdul Qadir set the stage alight as an anomaly. He was described by his contemporaries as the best in the world. In 67 Tests, he picked up 232 wickets at a bowling average of 33. Qadir was deadly at home, averaging below 27 with the ball.

He performed a holding run overseas, where he would allow the fast bowlers to rotate. His overall economy rate of 2.71 allowed him to do so.

Abdul Qadir is number four on our list of “Best Pakistan bowlers of all-time.”


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3. Waqar Younis

NORTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM: Waqar Younis of Pakistan bowls at the start of the World Cup Cricket match against Bangladesh, at Northampton, 31 May 1999. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE). (Photo credit should read MARTYN HAYHOW/AFP via Getty Images)

Waqar Younis bucked the trend of the 1980s, as soon as he burst onto the scene. The pace bowler bowled full and aimed to swing the ball, whereas pace bowlers in the preceding decade had aimed to bowl short. His “Banana Ball” was a magic delivery that swung into the right-hand batsman very late, at high pace. Had it not been for injuries during the second half of his career, Waqar Younis would have been even more prolific.

He picked up 373 wickets in 87 Tests at a bowling average of 23.56. He helped Pakistan to Test series wins in England and New Zealand. In ODI cricket, he was excellent at reversing the ball late in the innings. 416 wickets in 262 games, prove that he was a wicket-taker.

Waqar Younis is number three on our list of “Best Pakistan bowlers of all-time.”

2. Imran Khan

Jun 1985: Pakistan Captain Imran Khan bowls during the Second Test match against England at Lord’s in London. Pakistan won the match by ten wickets. Mandatory Credit: Adrian Murrell/Allsport

Imran Khan is not only Pakistan’s greatest-ever captain and all-rounder, but arguably their best Test bowler as well. He began the trend of reverse-swing bowling and taught the likes of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. A menacing right-arm pacer, Imran helped propel Pakistan Cricket to the level of world-beaters, captaining them to the 1992 Cricket World Cup triumph in Australia.

Imran picked up 362 wickets in just 88 Test matches, at a bowling average of 22.81. He averaged 28.5 or less with the ball in every single country that he played in.

Imran Khan is number two on our list of “Best Pakistan bowlers of all-time.”


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1. Wasim Akram

Pakistan bowler Wasim Akram successfully appeals for a catch behind the wicket to dismiss England batsman Ian Botham who is out for 0 during the World Cup Final between Pakistan and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, 25th March 1992. Pakistan won by 22 runs. (Photo by David Munden/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Wasim Akram is the best Pakistani bowler of all-time, as a result of his proficiency in both Tests and ODI’s. He edges out Imran Khan due to his far superior skills and longevity in ODI cricket.

Akram’s iconic moment came during the 1992 Cricket World Cup, where he picked up two wickets in two balls against England in the final, to help Pakistan record their first and to date only triumph in the tournament. He is famous for dismissing both Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis with reverse swing.

Wasim Akram is number one on our list of “Best Pakistan bowlers of all-time.”

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