KARACHI: Fast-bowler Junaid Khan has failed to recover from a hamstring injury sustained during the pre-World Cup training camp in Lahore and has been subsequently ruled out of the premier tournament.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s medical panel made the final call on Junaid’s fitness at the National Cricket Academy, ruling out the left-armer after he failed the fitness test.
The 24-year old is regarded as the lynchpin of Pakistan’s pace attack and his absence is a major setback for Pakistan, who are already without the bowling services of both Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez due to their suspensions.
Junaid, who has claimed 75 wickets at an average of 25 runs per wicket in 48 ODIs, was replaced by Bilawal Bhatti in the squad that is engaged currently engaged in a two-match ODI series against New Zealand, with the second one to be played at the Mclean Park in Napier today.
Bhatti played the opening game of the series in Wellington and is being widely tipped as Junaid’s replacement in the World Cup fifteen.
Team management still deliberating
The PCB is waiting on the team management and chief selector Moin Khan’s decision regarding Junaid’s replacement before making an official statement in this regard.
Bhatti was included as reinforcement for the New Zealand tour on Misbah’s insistence. The right-armer conceded 51 runs in his eight-over spell in the loss at Wellington— dismissing Brendon McCullum during his bowling spell.
The 23-year-old remains a clear favourite to replace Junaid in the World Cup team; however, the selection committee is also expected to discuss pacer Sohail Tanvir as a likely prospect.
Junaid’s loss self-created: Mohsin
Former coach and chief selector Mohsin Khan feels that the team management is to be blamed for the loss of Junaid.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Mohsin stated that Junaid and Umar Gul broke down due to heavy workload. “Junaid and Gul’s loss is a great setback for Pakistan’s pace attack,” he said. “It’s a self-created problem due to mishandling and misusing both bowlers and I sincerely hope that whoever replaces Junaid delivers the goods for the team.”
Another former chief selector and Test wicket-keeper Wasim Bari echoed Mohsin’s sentiments. “Without Ajmal and Hafeez, the bowling combination has been disturbed and Junaid’s unavailability is going to further dampen the attack. His withdrawal is a big jolt to the team considering his wicket-taking ability with both the new and the old ball,” said Bari.
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