One of the key members of Islamabad United's bowling attack, twenty-five-year old Rumman Raees continued his excellent form in the 2017 edition of the PSL taking twelve wickets in seven matches. By doing so, Rumman who has already played one international Twenty20 game made a powerful case for his inclusion in the Pakistan squad bound for the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Rumman spoke about his satisfaction with his performance during the PSL, the advice he received from Wasim Akram and Dean Jones and looked forward to making a favourable impression on the selectors for the upcoming tour of the West Indies.
By Amir Husain (13th March, 2017)
PakPassion.net : How do you feel about your performance in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League?
Rumman Raees : Firstly, I would like to thank the Almighty for whatever success I have achieved in the PSL. I put in more hard work compared to the previous edition of the PSL and the results are there for all to see. The credit for this improvement must also go to the senior players and coaches as they all instilled a lot of confidence in me during the tournament.
PakPassion.net : Is there anything special that you worked on in your preparations for PSL 2017?
Rumman Raees : I think an important factor in my improved performance was the advice I received from Wasim Akram. 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.
PakPassion.net : What sort of advice did you get from the likes of Wasim Akram and Dean Jones?
Rumman Raees : When you play under the guidance of such great personalities, it does wonders for your confidence. It’s not just legendary players like Wasim Akram or the vastly experienced Dean Jones but even the presence and advice of Misbah-ul-Haq, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin can have a great effect on your game. With their help, I have become more game aware and have learnt to adjust my game to varying match conditions. I have learnt how to prepare myself mentally for the game ahead, how to handle oneself and keep control of one’s feelings when under extreme pressure and to continue to stay focussed on the game plan.
Apart from the mental aspects of the game, when it comes to sharpening your skills, you cannot have a better teacher than Wasim Akram. I am very lucky in that way as I was always a great fan of Wasim Akram from a very young age. To have him advise me and give me such detailed tips is simply incredible. During the PSL it was very normal for him to watch me bowl and then bowl himself to show me what I needed to change. For instance, inswing was natural to me but I had problems with outswing which he told me how to do with more control than before. He was also very impressed with the variation in my bowling but he worked on showing me how to bowl slower deliveries with the same action of my quicker deliveries which was awesome. Apart from mental and skill aspects, there is knowledge about diet and fitness that I also picked from interacting with such great players.
PakPassion.net : Why were Islamabad United not able to repeat the performance of last year in winning the title again?
Rumman Raees : That is true that we failed to retain the title but then victory and defeat are part of any sport. We did exceptionally well last year and became champions and even this year we seemed to be on our way to the top. Unfortunately, in that key game against Karachi our batting collapsed even though we had done really well with our bowling. There is nothing deeper than the fact that we did not play well on that day and lost to Karachi. These things happen and we will, God Willing, be back next year after more preparation and try and win the title for the second time. The way to judge true champions is to see how they pick themselves after a fall and make a comeback and Islamabad United have that ability and belief to make a comeback next year.
PakPassion.net : How did the absence of Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif effect the team and its chances in PSL 2017?
Rumman Raees : It was a total shock to all of us. Whilst I cannot comment on the case itself, I would like to say that regardless of what happened, I am really proud of our team. We composed ourselves after this shock and we all got together and moved on to compete with the rest of the teams. To me, this shows the true strength of any good team.
PakPassion.net : What is the secret behind your peculiar celebration when you take a wicket?
Rumman Raees : It is difficult to put that into words but let me try. Let me start by saying that Twenty20 cricket in today’s world has become very tough for fast-bowlers. Whilst in the longer formats you can take a wicket and enjoy yourself by running around or even saying a few things to a batsman because you feel that you have the upper-hand. However, 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. 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. This is my style of celebration and whilst it has been discussed a lot, it is not necessarily one that people understand or like but I am fine with that.
PakPassion.net : How did it feel when Mohammad Amir returned the favour with a similar celebration?
Rumman Raees : 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. 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. 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.
PakPassion.net : How pleased are you that the PSL has been such a success?
Rumman Raees : When we all participate in a competitive league like the PSL, of course we are all focussed towards winning the title for our teams. But inside me, I have great pride that I am part of something so fantastic as the PSL. I hope and pray that the PSL goes from strength to strength and I would like to congratulate the PCB for arranging the final in Lahore. It was great to see our stars as well as foreign players play on our home soil. I had tears of happiness in my eyes when the national anthem was being played as that was a touching moment for me. I could not travel to Lahore due to personal commitments but my best wishes were with everyone that evening. The foreign players who came over to Pakistan also deserve a great vote of thanks from all of us for making that final a great occasion. The final was played between Peshawar and Quetta but the winner, in my view, was Pakistan.
PakPassion.net : You seem to have a serious outlook to your cricket; is that by design or is that your nature?
Rumman Raees : That is my nature. I am a down to earth person and I am not one to be jumping up and down just because I have had one or two successes. My aim is to take something which I have done right and look to repeat it in a better way. I also make an effort to learn from my mistakes and make sure that I don’t repeat them again.
PakPassion.net : Are you looking forward to being named in the squad for the tour of the West Indies?
Rumman Raees : I am as hopeful as ever. 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. I am currently part of the camp from which the final squad for the West indies tour will be chosen so I am very hopeful of good news in a few days time.
PakPassion.net : How hopeful are you of establishing yourself as a permanent selection in Pakistan’s Twenty20 and ODI squads?
Rumman Raees : Like any other player, it would great if I could establish myself in Pakistan teams for LOI formats. My own only wish is to serve Pakistan and I will be the happiest person if I can achieve that. Regardless of which type of format I play, I will be satisfied if I perform well and am able to serve my country to the fullest.