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ICC T20 WC: A Look at Fazalhaq Farooqi’s Meteoric Rise Ahead of Afghan vs. PNG Game

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At 23, Farooqi has finally grabbed the mantle of Afghanistan's pace spearhead

The roar of the crowd at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad reverberates with a newfound energy. Afghanistan, a team long known for their mesmerising spin attack, has unearthed a new weapon: Fazalhaq Farooqi. This young left-arm pacer has taken the 2024 T20 World Cup by storm, his express pace and pinpoint accuracy leaving a trail of bewildered batters in his wake. 

While Afghanistan's clash with Papua New Guinea promises another opportunity to showcase their dominance, all eyes are on Farooqi, the silent assassin who has transformed Afghanistan from potential spoilers to genuine title contenders.

Four-wicket hauls

Farooqi's rise has been nothing short of meteoric. His opening act was a showstopper—a spell of 5/9 in just four overs against Uganda. He came agonisingly close to a hat-trick twice, etching his name into the record books as the fourth-best bowling figure in T20 World Cup history. 

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One of Farooqi’s wicket against Uganda

This wasn't a one-off performance; Farooqi replicated his magic against the highly-rated New Zealand side. His sensational new-ball burst of 3/17 in just three overs left the Black Caps reeling and put Afghanistan firmly in control. He finished with figures of 4/17 in 3.2 overs, becoming the first bowler ever to take back-to-back four-wicket hauls in the T20 World Cup.

Credit: News18

Farooqi against New Zealand

From domestic debutant to T20 star

Farooqi's journey to the top hasn't been all smooth sailing. His domestic cricket career, barring the shortest format, wasn't decorated with eye-catching numbers. He made his T20I debut for Afghanistan in 2021 at the tender age of 20, but only played a solitary match that year. However, his talent shone through in his third T20I appearance, where he bagged impressive figures of 3/18 against Bangladesh. 

This marked a turning point, and Farooqi went on to have a stellar 2022 season, picking up 20 wickets in 16 T20I matches with a miserly economy rate. His success transcended formats, as he also debuted for Afghanistan in ODIs that year, showcasing his ability to adapt across the game's spectrum.

IPL stint and refining his craft

Farooqi's talent caught the eye of the IPL scouts, and he secured a coveted contract with the SunRisers Hyderabad in 2022. While his IPL stint was a mixed bag, oscillating between expensive spells and wicket-taking hauls, it provided him with invaluable experience on the biggest stage. 

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Farooqi in SRH colours

The 2023 season saw him continue in this high-risk, high-reward mould, but he faltered on the grandest stage—the ODI World Cup. With Afghanistan agonisingly close to a semi-final berth, many felt the lack of pace bowling support for the spinners was a crucial missing piece. 

2024: The year of the Afghan pace ace

Farooqi has stepped up to the challenge in T20Is this year, with his blistering pace making a significant impact. While his ODI form hasn't mirrored his T20 brilliance, his white-ball stats paint a picture of a bowler in prime form. He currently boasts 16 wickets in 10 T20I matches at an exceptional average of 14.18 and an economy rate under 7. 

Credit: ESPNcricinfo

The future star of Afghanistan

This red-hot form has propelled him into the top ten of the ICC Men's T20I bowling rankings. His overall T20I figures are equally impressive: 46 wickets in 36 matches at a miserly average of 18.93 and an economy of just over 6.5.

The question now is: can Farooqi maintain this sensational form? For now, Farooqi's fiery opening spells have Afghanistan fans daring to dream. From understudies to potential title contenders, the Farooqi factor has transformed Afghanistan's T20 World Cup campaign.