How Pakistan's Rauf became MCG specialist

Three years ago, Haris Rauf was terrorising club batters in Tasmania.

On Sunday, the fast bowler will be the Pakistani player with the most MCG experience ahead of a World Cup final against England.

Rauf's rise through the international ranks has been as rapid as one of his yorkers.

The 29-year-old from Rawalpindi was bowling for the Glenorchy, a suburb of Hobart, in 2019 when he received a call that would change his life.

Having played just three first-class games back in Pakistan, he was suddenly in contention to replace South African legend Dale Steyn, and one of Rauf's idols, in the Melbourne Stars' Big Bash League squad.

"Our scouts saw this Haris Rauf bowling and thought he would be quite handy," Stars coach David Hussey told AAP.

"We asked him to come up to Melbourne, he played a trial game for us and we signed him on the spot and he became pretty much one of our best players from the very first game he played.

"He became part of the Stars family from then on, he's s been absolutely brilliant."

In just his fourth game for the Stars, Rauf became an instant BBL cult hero when he claimed a hat-trick against the Sydney Thunder in January 2020.

He immediately thrived in the big surrounds of the MCG, something that will carry him well in a World Cup decider.

"I love the MCG basically, and I love playing there at the MCG," Rauf said this week.

"My memories of it I always share with friends and they tell me that hat-trick was so amazing."

Hussey recalls Rauf's last-over spell immediately changing the course of the game to set-up a comfortable victory for the Stars.

"The Thunder were just ahead and I remember talking to Clint McKay, our bowling coach, and without saying too cliche, 'this could either go one way or the other with Haris'," Hussey said.

"I was just rapt for Haris, he's an absolute champion person who fit it in and every time he played for the Stars, he gave it 100 per cent."

His heroics with the Stars caught the eye of Pakistan selectors, with Rauf making his international debut against Bangladesh in a T20 just 16 days after his MCG hat-trick.

Rauf has become a mainstay of Pakistan's white-ball teams, playing 56 T20Is in less than three years to claim 70 wickets at an average of 23.27.

In Pakistan's first game of this World Cup, Rauf was at home in front of 90,293 screaming fans at the MCG to almost propel his team to a famous win over India.

After smashing a giant six at the end of Pakistan's innings, Rauf took the vital wickets of India captain Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav, the world's No.1-ranked T20 batter.

"He bowled absolutely superbly and he's probably going down in history as the bowler who came up against Virat Kohli who played one of the best shots in T20 history," Hussey said.

"It was an amazing game of cricket and I was rapt Haris played his part in it and he's got another opportunity on the biggest stage at the MCG in a World Cup final."

Pakistan's batting coach Matthew Hayden said Rauf had already been playing a crucial role in getting his teammates ready for another match at the MCG.

"Ground dimensions are a really key factor here because they are so big square of the wicket and he'll know how to defend against that," the Australia legend said on Friday.

"Haris is already talking to the to the boys around that.

"What happens in professional sport is that there's information sharing and Haris has done a great job with that so far in this tournament."