Cricket

Thunder beef up fast bowling actions with Afghan Quick

The Sydney Thunder have selected Afghanistan ace Fazalhaq Farooqi to the first nine rounds of KFC BBL|12 after their opening draft pick, David Willey, withdrew from the tournament last week.

The 22-year-old has represented his country 17 times in T20 international matches, the most recent of which was in Afghanistan’s T20 World Cup clash against Australia at the Adelaide Oval earlier this month.

Farooqi picked up the wickets of Matthew Wade and Cameron Green in that match and conceded just 29 runs in a performance that caught the attention of Thunder list managers.

The speedy also has seven ODIs to his name; his 3-11 Asian Cup victory for Afghanistan over eventual winners Sri Lanka earlier this year similarly highlights him as a promising player.

The lefty, whose yorker is a feature of his bowling game of death, has played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL in recent years and will provide a spark in a Thunder line-up lacking all-out pace.

Thunder boss Andrew Gilchrist said Farooqi was not only a strong replacement for Willey, but possessed attributes that would excite fans across the country.

“Fazalhaq Farooqi is an emerging talent. He joins the Thunder in great form after playing some outstanding cricket in the T20 World Cup and the Asian Cup tournament,” Gilchrist said.

“While it was very disappointing to lose David Willey, it opened the door for Farooqi to further enhance his reputation and growing status in world cricket.

Gilchrist paid tribute to the recent contribution of the Afghan cricketers in the Big Bash.

“Afghanistan has enjoyed tremendous representation in the BBL over the years. Rashid Khan has been embraced by Adelaide Strikers fans as a genuine superstar and embraced South Australia, while others including Zahir Khan, Noor Ahmad and Mohammad Nabi (Forsaken), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Heat) and Qais Ahmad (Stars) have made their mark.

“We hope Fazalhaq will further enhance the growing reputation of Afghan cricketers as fearless cricketers and extraordinary entertainers.”

The Thunder could recruit another foreign player for the tournament backend once Farooqi leaves just after the midseason.

Tickets for the Weber WBBL and KFC BBL games are on sale now. Get yours at cricket.com.au/big-bash

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