I am looking forward to the challenge of leading the Pakistan pace attack, says Junaid Khan

Image courtesy of: Times of India

Khan welcomes the increase in expectations and pressure

Pakistan seamer Junaid Khan has announced that he feels extremely honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead the national team’s pace attack during the Champions Trophy after regular fast bowler Umar Gul was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

Khan, 23, feels confident about spearheading the pace attack since he spent some time playing county cricket with Lancashire in 2011.

“I played for Lancashire and learnt about the conditions in England which are helpful for swing bowling, so that will surely come good when I play in the Champions Trophy,” Khan said. “Learning is a never-ending process and in this camp Wasim [Akram] told me how to improve my inswingers and yorkers which are considered as the two best weapons for a left-arm bowler.”

Khan had an outstanding 2011 with Lancashire during the Friends Life Twenty20 competition, but has been unable to return to the English county scene due to international commitments.

The young seamer last toured England in 2007 with the Pakistan Under-19 squad, but failed to make an impact, taking only one wicket in five unofficial ODIs and one Test match.

However, things have drastically changed for Khan, who has become the country’s second highest wicket-taker after Saeed Ajmal in all three formats, with 37 wickets in 15 matches at a brilliant average of 22.18.

Khan is currently working alongside legendary left-arm pace bowler Wasim Akram to develop his bowling ahead of the Champions Trophy.

He also acknowledged the increase in expectations on his behalf, but vowed not to let the pressure get to him.

“I am wary about the role (in absence of Gul) and will definitely do my best to cover for his absence, but he will be missed,” he said. “I know there are expectations and I am determined to continue my good work. Every player comes into the national team after performing at the local level and once they are in the team there are always expectations.

“Wasim told us how to show aggression towards a batsman and I am developing that. I was the most aggressive bowler on the tour to India and then South Africa.”

Akram, who was responsible for Khan ending up at Lancashire, was full of praise for the young pace bowler, and said: “He has the capacity to spearhead Pakistan’s attack and after noticing his talent I recommended his name to Lancashire. As a young boy he did well for Lancashire and his ability to learn will help him in the Champions Trophy.”

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