ISLAMABAD - Pakistan cricket team’s premier fast bowler Umar Gul is roaring to unleash hell on all the opponents in the coming Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
Gul, in an exclusive interview with The Nation on Saturday, said: “I am recovering well from the injury and set to lead Pakistan bowling attack in Asia Cup and World T20. Playing against Asian opponents in Bangladesh would certainly benefit Pakistan in their preparations for the World T20 and it is a golden opportunity for us to adjust to conditions as both events would be held in the same country.”
He said he was training very hard in Islamabad for four to five hours and also spending two hours in the gym, which had worked very well in keeping him in shape for the upcoming events. “I had always love the spearhead Pakistan bowling and would love to perform the same role alongside Junaid Khan.”
On a query regarding Afghanistan team’s inclusion in Asia Cup Gul said: “They will have to struggle hard to adjust to top level cricket. They have played well in the recent past as majority of their players had played their club cricket in Peshawar and other parts of Pakistan. They are a group of talented players and would adjust to the top level soon.”
When asked by this correspondent that Pakistan pace attack looked a bit shaky without him, Gul replied: “During my absence fast bowling was heavily revolving around Junaid as other bowlers had hardly played Test cricket. Rahat Ali, Bilawal Bhatti and others would settle down after playing few matches alongside senior bowlers. Like batsmen, bowlers also develop a partnership. I am quite hopeful Pakistan fast bowling would be in same old shape sooner rather than later.”
On another query regarding rotation policy and over-utilisation of M Irfan, Gul said Irfan was a different case altogether and keeping in mind his extra-ordinary height and different muscles, captain and selectors should use him very carefully. “I am sure captain and team management had drawn a plan to utilise Irfan especially in the longer version of the game and keeping in mind his importance. He would be more than handy in the World T20.”
Gul said Pakistan had different tracks at different venues. “Lahore tracks offer swing and seam to fast bowlers. Karachi wickets are batting friendly and there is hardly any help for the fast bowlers while Islamabad and Rawalpindi wickets are bouncy and offer lot of assistance to fast bowlers. It is my suggestion to give fast bowlers matches at all the venues so they could adjust accordingly.”
Gul termed Younus Khan and Shahid Afirdi as best skippers he had played under. “They both bucked me up. Especially Younus Khan was a very clever captain. He has a great knowledge about cricket and knows how to handle players. He always sit with the laptop and try to find out flaws in batsmen and passed on the information to bowlers, which provided in more than desired results.”
Gul said he always loved to bowl with the new ball. “My strategy paid dividend in UAE where I managed to provide timely dismissals to the team with the new ball. Experience had helped me a great deal in becoming a better bowler as in the early days of my career, I rely too much on pace. But now I had developed more variety in my bowling and relying on swing, rather than pace.” He suggested that the PCB should conduct fast bowling conditioning camps at NCA during off season where national team players and domestic cricket performers should play together, which would help Pakistan cricket a great deal in getting number of future fast bowlers.
He termed Fata as nursery of grassroots level talent. “The PCB should work on Fata players and construct an academy not only in Fata but also at other major cities of the country to find and groom raw talent. I am sure not only good pace bowlers but excellent batsmen would start to surface.”