Junaid Khan, a performer among cynosures
When described as the latest addition to Pakistan’s enviable fast bowling armoury, Junaid Khan said with a cheeky smile, “I have been in the team since two years now and by God’s grace have done well in Tests too (reminding of his three five-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka).”
That sums up Junaid’s personality and his style of bowling. He is not your typical flamboyant Pakistani fast bowler whose image gets carved in your mind after watching him bowl once. He’s the sort you look up on the Internet and get surprised by his excellent statistics.
Junaid isn’t a maverick with an unconventional bowling action or mysterious deliveries. He doesn’t tear through the air, spit venom and intimidate batsmen. He doesn’t indulge in over-the-top celebrations after picking up a wicket. Junaid Khan is a simple, hard-working and intelligent bowler who has a plan and knows how to execute it.
Since the Pakistan team has arrived in India, all the hype and hoopla has been over the 7ft 1in tall Mohammad Irfan. Sohail Tanvir and Umer Gul too have had their share of publicity owing to their experience against India.
No one talked about Junaid Khan. Not until he toppled India’s top order on an overcast morning in Chennai. His match-winning 4 for 43 forced people to take notice of him. And an even more commendable performance of 3 for 39 on the Kolkata track, that didn’t have much in it for the pacers, has told one and all that this 23-year-old is the real deal.
After Pakistan wrapped up the ODI series with a match to go, Junaid caught up with bcci.tv to speak about the greatest moment of his career so far.
Being the highest wicket-taker in a series win against India – does it get better than this?
I thank to God because of whom we won this series. The people of Pakistan have prayed a lot for us. This was my first series against India and it feels amazing to not only end on the winning side but also contribute to the win. There can’t be a happier moment for either me or for the people of Pakistan.
As an upcoming young pacer, do you feel like you have the responsibility of taking Pakistan’s great legacy of fast bowling forward?
Wasim bhai, Waqar bhai, Aaqib bhai, all these people have achieved great things. The young Pakistani fast bowlers have some phenomenal role-models to look up to. That’s why we keep producing good fast bowlers. We keep talking to these former fast bowlers and take tips from them. We gain so much from their experience and that helps us become better fast bowlers ourselves.
How is it being part of such a diverse pace attack with the likes of Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Irfan?
All of us have different strengths. Sohail Tanvir has a different action altogether, Mohammad Irfan’s height is his asset. I, more than anything else, concentrate on seaming the ball and picking wickets with the new ball. Thankfully, I was successful in doing that in both the matches of this series so far.
Does it give you further confidence that the success has come against Indian batting line-up, which is considered to be one of the best in the world?
Their batting is no doubt good. But you cannot think about how good they are. Instead, you have to go in there knowing how good you are. As bowlers, we don’t see if it’s Sehwag we’re up against or some other ordinary batsman.
Who is your bowling idol?
I’ve always looked up to Imran Khan and I still follow him. But now I interact much more with Wasim Bhai in terms of my bowling.