Haris Rauf keen to put injury struggles behind him ahead of the T20 World Cup

Haris Rauf talks about injury and his return to competitive cricket as the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 looms.

Haris Rauf returned to international cricket after an injury layoff for the second T20I match at Edgbaston just in time for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024. The pacer, who hadn't played any cricket for three months due to a dislocated shoulder, talked about how his time off wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"I was injured the last few months but if you believe in yourself, then the layoff can be a blessing in disguise," he said at a press conference ahead of Pakistan's third T20I against England in Cardiff.

"Because you have time to recover and reassess your game plans. I felt good coming back to cricket. When you play for your country, it makes you very proud."

Rauf got injured in February playing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). He was ruled out for three months which saw him miss not only the remainder of the PSL, but also Pakistan's home series against New Zealand and away series in Ireland.

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The pacer made his return earlier this week in the second T20I against England at Edgbaston, where he demonstrated what Pakistan had been missing. He took two crucial wickets, dismissing England's top-scorers, Jos Buttler and Will Jacks, while conceding 34 runs in his four overs, making a strong comeback after conceding 17 runs in his opening over.

It wasn’t quite enough as Pakistan made only 160 in response to England’s 183.

"When you lose a game it hurts, but as a team, we are confident," Rauf said, talking about the match.

"We feel we can beat any opposition on any day. We've done it in the past, too. When you make mistakes you learn and try not to repeat those mistakes. We're looking to play better in the next few games and make a comeback.

"The camp is relaxed. We're enjoying ourselves. We're trying to follow our game plans and execute them well. The results haven't often been in our favour recently but if you stick to your plans they can sometimes follow."

Rauf talked about the mental aspect of an injury layoff, something his colleague Naseem Shah had also mentioned earlier.

"It's hard," he said. "It's a struggle during your rehab, and it's difficult when you come back to maintain that pace and accuracy.

“But if you believe in yourself, it makes things easier. When I wasn't in the team and rehabbing, I had a lot of time to think about my game and work on myself. Thankfully I'm back now, and the [T20] World Cup is coming up."

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Pakistan has played a substantial amount of cricket leading up to the T20 World Cup, with a total of 17 T20Is in 2024 alone. These matches have involved significant experimentation, ranging from changes in the top-order to even a change of captain.

Rauf laid the importance of the remaining two games of the England series but insisted that they are much more than just confidence-boosters before the mega event.

"Before the [T20] World Cup, if you win a series it gives you confidence, but even if you lose you understand where you made mistakes and you learn from them," he said.

"This series is difficult, but we'll try to win it. The focus is of course on the World Cup, which we aim to win to make our country proud."

‘Out of this World’ by Sean Paul and Kes: The official ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 anthem

‘Out of this World’ by Sean Paul and Kes: The official ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 anthem

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