‘I am yearning to play some matches to test myself’, says Umar Gul

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“I would love to play against them, but it all depends how it all goes for me in the coming weeks”

Pakistan pace bowler Umar Gul has revealed that he is “yearning to play some matches” after spending six months on the sidelines due to a knee injury he sustained in South Africa.

Gul suffered the injury during the second ODI against South Africa and flew to Australia in May to have his knee surgically repaired.

After his surgery, he returned to Pakistan, upon where he started his rehabilitation programme at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

“I’m pretty optimistic of getting back the rhythm as I feel fine at the moment,” Gul told Dawn. “It is just that there is no competition at present to find out the actual status of [my] fitness. Everything appears to be settling down. The knee is fine with no signs of ill-effects from the surgery I had a few months ago. Over the past 15 days, I have started bowling in the nets as well.”

With South Africa playing Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in a few days time, it is highly unlikely that Gul will feature in the series as he himself cannot judge his progress since he has just been bowling in the nets instead of playing competitive cricket.

“I am yearning to play some matches to test myself,” he said. “Although I have trained [during rehabilitation] and then bowling [in the nets], one can’t aspire to judge both the level of fitness and form if there is no competitive sort of matches.”

Gul’s injury forced him to miss the Champions Trophy, Pakistan’s tour of the West Indies, where they enjoyed a lot of success, and most recently, the national team’s tour of Zimbabwe, where they came under heavy criticism for losing an ODI and Test match.

Due to Pakistan’s poor performance in Zimbabwe, they slipped down from fourth to sixth on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

However, despite Pakistan experiencing some turbulent times, Gul noted that he was not worried.

“I’m obviously not worried about the number of matches I missed because of the surgery,” he added. “But it was quite difficult to sit out and watch team-mates playing without me. Fortunately, the injury this time was not as serious as the one I suffered in 2004 when three stress fractures of the back sidelined me from the game for more than a year. At that stage I feared my career was over.”

With Gul “yearning” to play international cricket once again, he will be working extremely hard over the next few weeks with hopes of making his highly-anticipated comeback against South Africa.

“It will be a great Test series because Pakistan have the potential to compete against them,” Gul said. “We may have lost against them earlier this year but our side can win because the conditions will suit us more than we encountered in South Africa. I would love to play against them, but it all depends how it all goes for me in the coming weeks.”

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