Next big thing is here


Junaid used the in-swinger to bowl Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli during the first One-day International in Chennai and cleaned up southpaw Yuvraj Singh with a delivery that held its line. With 4 for 43 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium earlier this week, Junaid ticked an important box — a match-winning performance against India. The 23-year-old followed it up with 3 for 39 in the next game at the Eden Gardens. These wickets prompted Wasim Akram to call for Junaid, who has played eight Tests, 15 ODIs and three T20 Internationals, to be included in all matches irrespective of the format.

"In some ways, the way he sprints in for every ball, he reminds me of myself. I just don't understand why Pakistan keep dropping him every now and then. Junaid needs to play every format of the game for his country," Akram wrote recently.

Incidentally, it was Akram whom Lancashire director of cricket Mike Watkinson called up before the county side signed up Junaid. It was a tough call since the youngster hadn't yet played Test cricket. "Wasim himself has played for Lancashire and he did speak highly of Junaid and we signed him up. We were looking for a young fast bowler; someone with potential," says Watkinson about their June 2011 signing.

In eight Twenty20 games Junaid picked up 12 wickets and was also economical. "He had a very good yorker and that also made him an excellent death-over bowler. He could get the ball to move away but couldn't get it to swing back in. I have observed that nowadays he can move the ball both ways, which shows that he is learning fast. He reminded me of a young Wasim — a bowler with a lot of potential who would benefit from experience. At Lancashire, Junaid also got first-hand experience of how a professional team trains and practices and what it takes to be at your best day in and day out. We are keeping tabs on his career and would like to have him back," Watkinson added.

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