Surprisingly ignored for T20 WC, Junaid Khan – is he the best fast bowler in the world? by Shahzad Firdous 10th August 2012 Pakistan has a reputation of producing world class fast bowlers from nowhere. Just when you thought, there would be no one to replace the legendary pair of Asif and Amir, who had made a reputation of being best in the business and were destined to become all time greats in the mode of Wasim and Waqar until the dreaded controversy struck once again on Pakistan cricket’s doors and it led to the exit of the finest talents on display in world cricket who had made life of all top batsmen and batting lineups around the world miserable be it India’s hyped batting lineup at Karachi in 2006 or Aussie and English batting on England tour in 2010, 11 wkts of Asif against Lankan lineup in 2006 to win Pakistan a series in Lanka or around 17 wkts at an average around 19 in South Africa 2007 for Asif or tremendous display in the t20 World Cup 2009 by Amir in his debut tournament displaying his skills by reigning in tournament’s top run-getter Dilshan in the final and getting rid of him finally. All of this you thought could not be replicated but Pakistan has the unprecedented ability of churning out one talented fast bowler after another. Latest on display is Junaid Khan who was tipped to be the next Mohd Amir by our media even before he had bowled a single ball at intl level. Junaid Khan has proven himself to be just that earning praise for his hard work. He picked up 14 scalps in the test series against Slanka at a low average of around 25 when senior bowlers like Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami and Aizaz Cheema could only pick 2 wkts combined in 3 tests! And yet Pakistan selectors have a habit of surprising everyone did just that by ignoring him for the T20 World Cup. The reason they cited was that he is more suited for test format. A bowler who is high on confidence would do well in any format compared to likes of inconsistent Sami and Gul. Gul although you would say is the best going around when it comes to T20 format. Sohail Tanveer has offlate found his mojo back but seriously there was no reason to drop an upcoming talent like Junaid Khan for t20 World Cup and he should have been selected in place of Mohammad Sami whom I rate very highly too when it comes to shorter formats. Sami has an average of 28 in odis and did reasonably well on Lanka tour in shorter formats. But still he was the one in place of whom Junaid Khan should have gotten a nod for his excellent performance in test series. Now on the topic whether Junaid Khan is the best in the business at present time. I think it would be premature to say that. The talent is for everyone to see and is on display. At the moment, there are no great bowlers of the caliber of Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib Akhtar at international level. Last of that breed was the pair of Asif and Amir, Steyn and Morkel have pace and energy and they can unsettle any lineup on their day but have yet to trouble a batting lineup like the likes of Asif and Amir did consistently on England tour 6 tests against world class battings of England and Australia and the way Asif did against India in 2006 test series Karachi, his display against India where he was unplayable in the first t20 World Cup and nipped out 4 top Indian batters with amazing skill in T20 World Cup final of 2007. Anderson and Broad were sensational in the 4 nil routing of India at home but were recently very ordinary against South Africa conceding 637 for 2. So emergence of Junaid Khan on intl scene is a welcome sign for cricket lovers. Lets hope he lives up to his promise. Umar Gul has been around for ages it seems but he has yet to make it big at test level and even at odi level. He is good but not in the league of pair of Asif and Amir and latest Junaid. Why I curse Pakistan selectors so much besides ignoring Junaid Khan for World T20 for a long time they ignored one of the world’s best and proven hitting talents in Imran Nazir for t20 format and selecting the likes of Shahzaib, Imran Farhat, Ahmed Shahzad, Khalid Latif, Fawad Alam and Asad Shafiq ( Fawad and Asad both very good test players but nowhere t20 players). They have gone for experience mostly this time for the big event which is the right thing to do. At the same time they have picked talented Raza Hassan in place of proven Abdur Rehman. Now this I would say is not the right choice n o matter how good Raza Hassan maybe but preference should have been experience and proven talent at intl level. Recalling likes of Razzaq, Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir is a great idea and any team would gladly want likes of Imran and Razzaq in their t20 teams and Kamran has done well as top order player in shorter formats. Series against India is coming up at the end of December and is highly anticipated. The battle between Ajmal and India’s batsmen is highly awaited one. Ajmal has troubled Tendulkar and gotten rid of him last time they played too. Virat Kohli announced himself on international stage by scoring 183 in the Asia Cup game. How he will face up to Ajmal, Afridi, Junaid and Hafeez will be interesting to watch. If a test series is played between these two countries, Pakistan will have an edge because we now have settled combination in tests in both batting and bowling.