Pakistan never had a shortage of producing menacing fast bowlers, be it the emergence of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to Shoaib Akhtar bursting onto the scene in 1997. In 2010, a young Mohammad Amir made heads turn while Shaheen Afridi is ruling the roost in the modern era. However, in the last decade or so, many promising talents came and vanished. Umar Gul could have been so much more, as could Abdul Razzaq. Another bowler whose career was filled with ‘what ifs’ was Junaid Khan.
Junaid Khan made his Pakistan debut in 2011, but only managed to play 107 international games across the next eight years. In ODIs, Junaid’s best of 4/12 came against India at Chennai in 2012 when he ran through India’s top order, dismissing the Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, and Rohit Sharma.
A video of his performance was shared by a Twitter user and Junaid Khan reshared the video as well, calling it the turning point of his career. In his tweet, the pacer wrote: “I think this was my career’s turning point. What do you think?” Users on Twitter, however, had mixed reactions to it. Some called it one of the best opening spells, while others questioned Junaid about his lack of performance after his performance against India.
Here are some of the reactions from the fans:
Yes but what happened after that?
— Waseem Abbasi (@Wabbasi007) June 28, 2022
Where have this kind of performances gone? In fact, where is this JK now?
— Hus. (@iHusnainShahid) June 28, 2022
then you slow your pace, if you had work for your fitness then you will be another wasim akram but sadly you have have decreased your pace
— Engr.Mohib Ullah kakar (@Mohibullah4449) June 28, 2022
In the second ODI, Junaid Khan bowled another brilliant spell, dismissing Kohli and Gautam Gambhir. A year later in 2013, Junaid bowled a fine last over for Pakistan against South Africa. Bowling with an injured shin, the southpaw manage to defend nine runs off the last over, helping his team by a narrow margin of one run in a last-ball thriller.
It was Pakistan’s first-ever bilateral series win in the rainbow nation, but unfortunately, fitness issues sidelined Junaid Khan from the international set-up. After making on and off sporadic appearances, he was named in Pakistan’s 2019 World Cup squad but was later dropped from it. He finally made a much-awaited come back later in the same year but was dropped again soon after.