Sunday, December 22, 2013

Junaid Khan - One of the Best Fast Bowlers in the World!

In the summer of 2009, Pakistan unleashed a teenage left arm fast bowler on the international stage who took the world by storm. By the end of the summer of 2010, with his international career barely a year old, Pakistan's teen sensation had shocked the world with the disgrace he brought to his country.

Mohammad Amir's career stocks fell just as fast as they had risen.

It has been more than three years since Amir played for Pakistan, yet hardly a match goes by without the fans missing his presence in the Pakistan XI. Till date majority of the Pakistan fans miss him, would like to see him play for Pakistan again, and are eagerly anticipating his return in two years, if not sooner.

Amir has created such a euphoria with his spellbinding performances that his aura continues to remind fans of what could have been.

This euphoria is also the reason why the rise of another left arm fast bowler from Pakistan, who came on to the international scene about a year after Amir left it, has gone unnoticed.

Junaid Khan has now been playing for Pakistan for over two years, and he is by far the best fast bowler to play for them for a long time. He has been spearheading Pakistan's pace attack for a while now and some of the performances that he has given, especially in ODIs, deserve special praise.

Something that I feel he has not been given enough of.

Junaid Khan is an inspiration for up and coming young pacers. He is not only the best fast bowler in Pakistan, but arguably one of the best in the world currently.

Junaid's performance in the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Dubai left me awestruck. He bowled with intensity, with the firepower once associated with the two Ws, and single handedly brought Pakistan back into the game.

The performance also got me wondering just how good is Junaid Khan.

A comparison with Mohammad Amir shows that Junaid has been just as good, if not better, than the disgraced teen sensation, and yet he has not been applauded the same way that Amir was.

Junaid has definitely been superior in ODIs for Pakistan. One can only wonder how it would have been if these two left armers were currently spearheading Pakistan's attack.

A comparison with Pakistan's greatest fast bowlers, including the two Ws, Shoaib Akhtar, and Imran Khan, shows just how well Junaid Khan's career has progressed in ODIs.

Only Waqar Younis took more wickets than Junaid has in 39 ODIs; only 4 more wickets. And only Waqar Younis had a better strike rate than Junaid has after 39 ODIs; only 2 fewer deliveries required to pick up a wicket.

Junaid's relatively higher average and economy rate can be attributed to the playing conditions these days, which are far more conducive to high scores than in previous times.

Based on just this, Junaid is surely one of the best fast bowlers to emerge from Pakistan. He is only 23, and if he can sustain this form and fitness then he will have a long career, which will place him among the very best produced by Pakistan.

To put this into perspective at the global level, Junaid Khan's ODI bowling average of 22.93 is only bettered by Saeed Ajmal (22.87) and Ajantha Mendis (20.82) among the current ODI players with over 50 wickets.

There is no pacer in the world among the current players who has a better average than Junaid Khan.

Those players include Dale Steyn (25.49), Steven Finn (27.74), James Andersen (29.11), Lonwabo Tsotsobe (24.96), Morne Morkel (23.54), and Mitchell Johnson (25.37) - the fast bowlers part of the ICC rankings' Top 10 ODI bowlers.

Does this not make Junaid Khan one of the best fast bowlers in the world right now?

If you still need convincing, hear this...

Junaid Khan's strike rate of 27.6 in ODIs is the second best strike rate in ODIs ever (only Shaun Tait's 27.2 is better) for all bowlers who have taken a minimum of 50 ODI wickets.

While Amir might have taken the world of fast bowling by storm, it is Junaid who is slowly but surely making it his own!

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