Junaid aims to fill void left by seniors

Left-arm fast-bowler wants to cement his place in the side after Zimbabwe tour.

Express August 16, 2011

LAHORE: Pakistan’s upcoming fast-bowler Junaid Khan is not under any kind of pressure to quickly fill the void created by the omission of senior fast-bowlers for the tour of Zimbabwe as well as the spot-fixing allegations but will instead concentrate on his performance to consolidate his place in the team.

Talking during Pakistan’s training camp taking place in Lahore, Junaid added that his aim was to cement his place in the playing-eleven via continuous improvement and that was the reason why he continued playing cricket even in the off season.

“I chose county because here in Pakistan the domestic season had not started and I wanted to keep myself going.”

Junaid has played seven One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and a single Twenty20 for Pakistan and was part of their World Cup squad as well as the Test squad on the tour of West Indies that followed the mega event. He was also Pakistan’s second-highest wicket-taker in the two-match ODI series against Ireland on the way back from West Indies.

After the series against Ireland, Junaid was signed up by Lancashire and had an impressive stint with the county, picking up 12 wickets in eight Twenty20 matches at an economy rate of six.

“County cricket has not only kept me busy but also provided me with the required experience,” he said. “In fact, county cricket did not allow a gap between my playing days and helped me improve my bowling ability. By playing county and international cricket, I am now fully aware of the rigours of international cricket and the continuous play will help me against Zimbabwe.”

Junaid, 21, lauded Zimbabwe’s return to Test cricket where they beat the touring Bangladesh team, ending their six-year self-imposed exile with a win. Given their recent performance, Junaid confirmed that neither he nor the team will be taking them lightly.

“Zimbabwe are playing relatively well and it won’t be easy to beat them at their home and in their conditions,” said Junaid. “But I would make an impression by playing positive cricket and playing according to my responsibilities. My job is to deliver and fill the void created by the senior bowlers and make a place for myself in the team. With that, I’d like to win matches for Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.