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Friday, April 15, 2011


He was reduced to a drinks-boy in the World Cup as his team-mates grappled with the top outfits for cricket supremacy. While he was, indeed, part of the 42-day extravaganza staged in the subcontinent, he could do no more than twiddle his thumb at the sidelines while the likes of Tendulkar, Steyn, Ponting, Yuvraj, Afridi, Malinga, Strauss and others made hay in the middle.

For the shy but robust youngman from Swabi — a remote district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province — these men were larger than life icons of the game he so loved. Revered by millions around the world for their ability to win a game single-handedly, many of them inspired the rookie pacer to take up cricket as a career and instilled in him the confidence to excel on the field.

He would have given his right arm to rub shoulders with these greats of the game but it was not to be. The 20-year-old Junaid Khan, however, remains undeterred by the missed opportunity. On the contrary, he appears hungrier than ever to fill his wicket-bag. “I have no regrets because I know my time will come,” says Junaid as he lumbers up during a training session at a local club. “I was not there in the original World Cup squad remember, but Sohail’s (Tanvir) injury gave me the opportunity to be part of the prestigious event and I learnt a lot.”

“I feel richer in experience after being part of such a huge event. I am motivated and the techniques I have learnt from my seniors are bound to serve me better in the future.”

To say that the young fast bowler didn’t make his mark at all during the mega event will be not be entirely correct. Junaid, in fact, made the critics sit-up in Pakistan’s warm-up game in Dhaka against the formidable England side when he bowled at a fair pace with swing and control to return fine figures of 3-44 in eight overs.

England batsmen, riding on the back of their Ashes triumph, were never comfortable against Junaid who clean bowled the opposition’s best batsman Jonathan Trott for 9 on an absolute ripper of a delivery besides snapping up wicketkeeper Matt Prior and fast bowler Tim Bresnan.

Former England player David Lloyd, admiring Junaid’s skills, said he reminded him of Mohammad Aamir and the world could shortly witness yet another sensational young fast bowler from Pakistan.

The left-armer’s show in the warm-up was a testament to his immense potential as a front-ranking pacer as his more experienced teammates Shoaib Akhtar, Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal were shown scant respect by Strauss and Co on a placid Dhaka pitch.

“I enjoyed bowling on the Dhaka pitch that morning,” recalled Junaid. “After a few wayward overs, I found my rhythm and getting Trott on a Yorker length ball made my day. But the wicket I would really want to get is that of Tendulkar’s, he is a real master,” says the Swabi lad who represented Abbottabad Falcons with aplomb in the Faysal Bank Cup Twenty20 event last year.

Since making his first class debut in January 2007 at the age of 16 for Abottabad, Junaid has gone from strength to strength in domestic cricket. His record prior to the World Cup read as 167 wickets from just 35 matches, a prolific run by any standards. He also put up a fine show for Pakistan A matches.

As he prepared for his departure to Islamabad to meet the Prime Minister in an official function arranged for the World Cup squad, Junaid said he was confident of making his mark on the tour of the West Indies next month. “I hope that I would get an opportunity to perform at the international level for my country on the forthcoming tour,” he said. “I am fully focused about this West Indies tour and really looking forward to doing well there. I am fully fit and realize my responsibilites as a fast bowler now that Shoaib bhai, Aamir and Asif aren’t available,” said Junaid.

“I have seen and heard a lot about some of the West Indian players, specially Darren Bravo and Pollard. They are very talented,” said the athletically built pacer. “Of course (Chris) Gayle and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul are big names and I am excited about facing them on the upcoming tour.”


Pakistan's young middle order batsman Asad Shafiq has joined Habib Bank Limited as a replacement for outgoing Saleem Elahi who has joined WAPDA.

Asad made his first class debut for in late 2007 has an impressive domestic record. He scored an impressive 1244 runs at an average of nearly 50 in the 2009-2010 season.

He played just one match for PIA before he was called to join the Pakistan team for the New Zealand tour, he resigned from PIA after the World Cup and has joined HBL, PIA's arch rivals in domestic cricket.

Abdul Raqib Head of Sports Division, HBL confirmed that Asad has formally joined HBL, however he didn’t reveal the grade and status of his job.

Shahid Afridi May Join PIA:
Mean while according to sources Shahid Afridi is considering a contract offer from PIA ( Afridi is currently contracted to HBL). He has been offered the General Manager (Sports) role by PIA.

Shahid Afridi A Funny Interview

Wahab Riaz Interview With Family

New batting coach likely after West Indies tour

Batting legend Javed Miandad’s refusal to coach the national cricket team has forced the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to defer the appointment of batting coach till the conclusion of the West Indies tour. An official of the PCB has informed that the PCB has deferred the appointment of batting coach till the end of West Indies series as they are unable to find a suitable bating expert at the moment. Pakistan will play five-match ODI and two-match Test series in West Indies from April 23 to May 20.

“Actually nobody in the board was expecting that Miandad will refuse this offer and everybody was considering him as a batting consultant for the squad. However, his refusal stunned the management and they did not have sufficient time to look for a batting consultant before the West Indies tour,” he said. “Pakistan will spend one month in West Indies and it is improper to name a new batting coach at this moment. We believe that the board will be in better position to name someone for this slot towards the end of this tour,” the official said.

He added the board had already started looking for a batting consultant and the top management had some names under considerations. “We are unaware about the possible candidates but the top bosses surely have some names under discussion. Hopefully these names will be made public in next few days,” he added. The issue of appointment of a batting coach was raised by skipper Shahid Afridi and other members of team management after the Pakistan batsmen failed to perform in the World Cup that concluded earlier this month in India.

Pakistan cricketers get PIA Frequent Flyer Diamond Cards

 A reception was hosted in honour of the Pakistan cricket team, who participated in the World Cup, by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) here the other day. Speaking on the occasion, PIA managing director Nadeem Khan Yousufzai said the PIA had always supported sports in Pakistan and would continue to play its role for the promotion of sports in Pakistan. He appreciated the performance of the Pakistan cricket team for reaching the World Cup semifinal. “It was the collective effort that Pakistan reached the semifinals in the World Cup 2011,” he added. He also commended the bowling performance of skipper Shahid Afridi. The team members were awarded PIA Frequent Flyer Diamond Cards with 20,000 air miles as a token of appreciation by the PIA managing director.

Most people satisfied with cricket team's World Cup performance: Poll

 Results of a recent Gilani Poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan show that most Pakistanis are satisfied with their team's performance in the recently concluded Cricket World Cup, with a total of 50% rating the Pakistani team's performance as good or very good.
While 22% feel Shahid Afridi did very well as Captain in the World Cup while another 33% rate his captaincy as good.
In a survey, a nationally representative sample of men and women from across the country were asked the following question: "In your opinion, how was the Pakistani cricket team's performance in the World Cup?" Fifteen percent (15%) rate the Pakistani team's performance as very good while another 35% think their performance was good.
More than a fourth of the respondents said the team's performance was average (29%) while 8% said it was bad and another 8% found it to have been very bad.

Afridi eyes rise in ranking

The Pakistan cricket team left for the West Indies yesterday as they look to continue their impressive run this year which saw them beat New Zealand in the One-Day International (ODI) series and reach the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.
The team’s target, after exceeding expectations at the mega event, is to improve their ranking where they currently lie sixth in the Test and ODI tables, according to the limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi.
“We’re looking to improve our ranking on this tour,” said Afridi prior to his departure for the West Indies yesterday. “We will try to get the best results against West Indies right from the word go as that will give us a good start in our campaign.”
Onus on youngsters
The captain did maintain that a rise in the rankings will not come overnight and was a gradual process but urged his team to show consistency in order to achieve the desired results. With six uncapped players in the squad, Pakistan will be relying heavily on lesser-experienced talent in order to produce results on the tour.
“It is a gradual process but we have talented youngsters who can help us improve by performing with the required consistency. There are a lot of young players but they are not short of talent and won their place in the squad by performing in the domestic circuit.
“I was also impressed with their performance in the training camp and if they show the same commitment on the tour, we have a very good chance of success.”
The inclusion of youngsters, according to Afridi, would also help the selectors in forming a pool of players keeping next year’s World Twenty20 in mind.
Warning against complacency
Afridi, however, cautioned his players against complacency against a team ranked lower than them. Pakistan thrashed West Indies by ten wickets in the quarter-final of the World Cup but the captain urged an attacking frame of mind on the tour.
“West Indies are also in a rebuilding stage and they will come out with a positive frame of mind. They will give the extra effort so it is not going to be an easy task. We will also need to show a lot of maturity and responsibility. I will also focus on my batting and will try to be responsible which is very important for my team.”
Unperturbed by West Indies pitches
Team manager Intikhab Alam, while talking to reporters at Lahore airport, looked confident of success on the tour despite the squad undergoing just nine hours of training in the two-day camp held in Lahore.
“Considering their squad and the pitches there in the Caribbean, I don’t see any trouble for our players,” said Alam. “I am hopeful that our youngsters will perform well and win the series.”
Pakistan will be fielding Muhammad Salman behind the stumps, in for the under-performing Kamran Akmal and their bowling will be spearheaded by Wahab Riaz who grabbed a five-wicket haul in the semi-final defeat at Mohali at the hands of World Champions India.
The 20-year-old Usman Salahuddin was drafted into the squad in place of Younus Khan while all-rounder Hammad Azam has been called up after Abdul Razzaq was omitted by the selectors.
(With additional reporting from Umar Farooq)
Team manager  Initkhab Alam
“Considering their squad and the pitches there in the Caribbean, I don’t see any trouble for our players. I am hopeful that our youngsters will perform well and win  the series against the  West Indies.”
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