Top 10 Best Pakistani Bowlers of All Time

While the legendary Wasim Akram leads the list of best Pakistani bowlers in cricket history, it also features legends who left a lasting impact with their extraordinary talent.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan Dutta

Last Updated: 2024-06-28

Kaylan Geekie

6 minutes read

wasim akram

Grading the best Pakistani bowlers of all time isn’t an easy task, especially after how they have profoundly impacted cricket history, most notably in the 80s and 90s. Like Australian cricket is known for its mentality and Indian cricket for producing legendary batsmen, Pakistan cricket has been synonymous with generating some of the fastest bowlers, who have historically dominated with their pace, bounce, and swing.

Over the past few decades, the country has consistently seen world-class speedsters lethal enough to outsmart any batsman at critical moments. Pakistani bowlers have always had a knack for unhinging potentially dangerous partnerships that have often shifted a game’s momentum in their favour.

The pace-friendly green top has been a paradise for the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan, Shoaib Akhtar and others, who tormented the greatest of betters with their sheer pace and swing. The green pitches added tremendous movement to the ball after pitching, which was exploited by the crafty Pakistani pacers to the fullest.

Interestingly, the country had some of the best spin bowlers as well, who complemented the pace attack masterfully. Let’s look at the top 10 Pakistan bowlers of all time.

Top 10 Best Pakistan Bowlers

PlayerSpanMatchesWicketsBest Bowling Figures4-fers5-fers10-fers
Wasim Akram1984-20034609167/11937315
Waqar Younis1989-20033497897/3642355
Imran Khan1971-19922635448/5820246
Shahid Afridi1996-20165185387/128100
Saqlain Mushtaq1995-20042184968/16423193
Saeed Ajmal2008-20152124477/5519124
Shoaib Akhtar1997-20112194386/1116162
Umar Gul2003-20162374276/422080
Abdul Razzaq1996-20133393886/351240
Abdul Qadir1977-19931713689/5616175
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Wasim Akram | 916 international wickets 

Hailed as the best swing bowler to ever play cricket, Wasim Akram is widely regarded to be the greatest left-arm fast bowler in cricket history. Playing over 19 years, Akram exhibited speed, aggression, and unmatched skill that made facing him a challenging task for any batsman. He ended up playing 356 ODIs, taking 502 wickets and ranked 10th in most five-wicket hauls in ODIs. 

Image Credits: ICC

Image Credits: ICC

Akram was an equally brilliant fast bowler with the red ball and perfected the art of reverse swing to such an extent that critics called him the “Sultan of Swing”. He ended up scalping a whopping 916 wickets in 460 matches for the Men in Green, boasting an impressive average of 23.57. With a mammoth 31 five-wicket hauls to his name, Akram has become a global cricket icon, who is revered even today.

Waqar Younis | 789 international wickets

Wasim Akram’s partner, who formed Pakistan’s intimidating pace bowling duo, Waqar Younis has taken the second most wickets for the national team after Akram. Almost equally proficient in swinging and executing toe-crushing yorkers, Younis debuted internationally in 1989. Injury troubled him his entire career and he ended up playing 349 matches, including Tests and ODIs, where he amassed 789 wickets with an impressive average of 23.70. 

Image Credits: @mak_asif (X Account)

Image Credits: @mak_asif (X Account)

Younis surpassed Akram in registering the most five-wicket hauls by any Pakistani bowler, which is 35 in total, including a record 13 fifers in ODIs. Bowling alongside Akram, Younis formed a legendary bowling attack that dominated cricket for more than a decade and inspired fans and future cricketers worldwide.

Imran Khan | 544 international wickets

The leader, captain and player who identified the talents of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, 

Imran Khan is the third-highest wicket-taker and undoubtedly the best Pakistani bowling all-rounder who played for an impressive 21 years and won the ICC ODI World Cup in 1992. Imran's bowling skills came into prominence through his reverse-swinging yorkers, which had a massive fan following in the mid-80s. 

Image Credits: @rabiastudies (X Account)

Image Credits: @rabiastudies (X Account)

In his long career, Imran Khan played 263 matches, as white ball cricket wasn’t as prominent back then, and secured 544 wickets achieving 24 five-wicket hauls in the process.

Shahid Afridi | 538 international wickets

Yet another highly celebrated player in Pakistan cricket history is Shahid Afridi. The all-rounder was once Pakistan’s superstar who made significant contributions to the national cricket team. Revered for his exceptional spin bowling, Afridi is counted as one of the most talented names to come out of the Pakistan camp. His spin bowling included googlies, quicker deliveries, and occasionally some dangerous off-breaks that always kept the batsmen guessing.

Image Credits: @TEAM_AFRIDI (X Account)

Image Credits: @TEAM_AFRIDI (X Account)

Apart from his effective bowling, Afridi is also known for his thunderous batting displays, which include a mind boggling 45-ball-100 against India in 2005. These traits made Afridi a brilliant option in white ball cricket and he delivered Pakistan the T20 World Cup title in 2009. Notably, Afridi and Sanath Jayasuriya are also the only cricketers to score over 4,000 runs and take over 300 ODI wickets.

Saqlain Mushtaq | 496 international wickets

When Pakistani pacers were ruling world cricket and traumatizing opponents with their searing pace in the 80s and the 90s, an intelligent Pakistani spinner was calmly doing his job and ended up becoming a prominent figure in Pakistani cricket. Saqlain Mushtaq left behind an unmatched legacy with his exceptional spin bowling that won him love and respect from fans and opponents alike. 

Mushtaq’s unique "doosra" delivery was a deceptive tool that stunned numerous batsmen and later on became a valuable weapon for the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and more. Mushtaq could play just 169 ODIs but managed to get an impressive 288 wickets, which had six five-wicket hauls. In total, Mushtaq played 218 matches across Tests and ODIs and accumulated 496 wickets for his country, which had 19 five-wicket hauls - the most by any Pakistani spinner ever. 

Shoaib Akhtar | 438 wickets

The popular “bad boy” of the late 90s, speed merchant Shoaib Akhtar was famously dubbed the "Rawalpindi Express," and remains an iconic Pakistan cricket figure to date. Renowned for his unmatched speed and aggressive bowling style, Akhtar created the historic record of clocking the fastest delivery ever bowled at 161.3 km/h, a feat that came against England in 2003. However, the incredible speed meant he had to endure a lot of injuries as his career could span over only 219 international matches across Tests, ODIs, and T20Is, where he could claim 438 wickets in total. 

Image Credits: @ChangeofPace414

Image Credits: @ChangeofPace414

Akhtar’s peak performances include a magnificent 6-wicket haul, where he conceded just 11 runs. With the red ball, he took 178 wickets that had 12 five-wicket hauls, while in the 50-over format, Akhtar tallied 247 scalps with 6 five-wicket hauls.

To summarize, Pakistan's cricket history is enriched by legendary bowlers like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Imran Khan, Shahid Afridi, Saqlain Mushtaq, and more, who had reached iconic status by the time they retired. They not only carved a niche with exceptional skills and contributions to the national team but also inspired fans worldwide who took up speed bowling.

Their collective legacy of skill, dedication, and pivotal moments in cricket continues to inspire generations, solidifying their status as some of Pakistan's finest and most revered athletes in the sport.


Who is the No 1 bowler in Pakistan?

For a long time now, Wasim Akram has been the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in Test cricket with 414 scalps and also the no. 1 bowler for the country overall.

Which Pakistani bowler is legendary?

The “legendary'' bowler label could be given to Pakistan’s speedster Shoaib Akhtar, who once delivered a 161.3 kmph delivery to stun the cricketing world. He was nicknamed the "Rawalpindi Express''.

Who is No 1 bowler in history?

Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka is widely acclaimed as the no. 1 bowler in cricket history. Renowned for his distinctive and unconventional bowling action, he possessed exceptional control and the rare ability to generate spin in both directions. He retired with a staggering total of 1,347 international wickets.

Who is the fastest bowler to 100 wickets in Pakistan?

Pace bowler Haris Rauf was the fastest to achieve the historic milestone in T20Is by becoming the quickest player to reach 100 wickets in the format. This feat occurred during Pakistan's pivotal Group A match against Canada in Match 22 of the 2024 T20 World Cup held in New York.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan DuttaSports Writer

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.