Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 2nd Test, SSC, 4th day July 3, 2012

Junaid inspired by Akram's brilliance

Junaid Khan's two quick wickets after tea brightened what was a dreary day for Pakistan in the field

Search for "Wasim Akram" on Youtube and one of the most watched videos is of the 1992 World Cup final at the MCG, where he swung those magical deliveries to get rid of Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in succession. Lamb was squared up by one that straightened after pitching and shaved off stump. Lewis was consumed by one that swung in visciously and took the edge to hit the top of middle. The crowd of 87,000 witnessed a work of art, and most cricket fans have watched it since, perhaps several times over.

Junaid Khan, Pakistan's newest left-arm fast bowling hope since Mohammad Amir, has watched it, and he was awestruck. Several Pakistan bowlers have perfected the art of reverse swing over the decades - Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Waqar Younis, and Wasim, to name the best. Junaid is far from that league at the moment, but his incisive spell on a flat, fourth-day pitch at the SSC was encouraging for Pakistan.

After his incisive post-tea spell, a soft-spoken Junaid revealed his inspiration. "I watched the Youtube video of Wasim bhai bowling round the wicket with the older ball in the 1992 World Cup final," Junaid said. "He had also passed on some tips to me."

Bowlers from both sides have toiled without luck in this Test. Sri Lanka's seamers struggled to get movement in the air and off the pitch. Their spinners rarely got the ball to turn and bounce. On the fourth day, Pakistan's seamers managed to get more out of the pitch, but wickets were still hard to come by. Their best hope was the old ball.

When the ball was 69-overs old, and Sri Lanka 235 for 1 with the centurions Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan well set, Misbah-ul-Haq tossed it to Junaid. He attacked from round the stumps after three balls, and by the end of the over, he had a wicket. The ball angled in and hit Dilshan on the back pad as he went forward to defend.

Two overs later, Junaid got Mahela Jayawardene, with all of 2697 Test runs at this venue at an average of 79. The angle from round the stumps tested him. Padding up to a fast bowler invariably invites trouble and Jayawardene did not survive. He may have been unlucky with the height, but Junaid's pace and reverse swing had created doubt in Jayawardene's mind. He walked back with his first duck at the SSC.

The angle and movement should have done Thilan Samaraweera in as well, but the batsman escaped when one that struck him in line with the stumps. Junaid had trapped him on the crease, playing down the wrong line. In his six-over spell with the old ball, Junaid had taken two wickets for 13 runs. Samaraweera's record at the SSC is as intimidating as Jayawardene's, and he too walked back for a duck soon after, lbw to Saeed Ajmal.

Junaid recalled a previous spell against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi, where he recorded his best figures of 5 for 38, in only his second Test. Junaid said he gets a kick out of bowling with the old ball.

"In the UAE I managed to get wickets with the new ball as well," Junaid said. "Some catches were dropped. But most Pakistan bowlers seem to bowl better with the old ball. Today, the ball was reversing."

When asked about bowling on pitches that offer little help to fast bowlers, Junaid said it all came down to hard work, and luck. "On Asian wickets you have to work a bit harder. It depends a lot on your luck, and the pitch too," he said. "Sometimes if you bowl well, you don't get wickets. If you are not bowling well, you still get wickets."

The teams had to deal with rain interruptions over the last three days and Junaid said it had upset his rhythm a bit. With two innings yet to be completed, and the rain likely to continue, a draw looms. Though Pakistan fought back post tea, the best they can do on the final day is make Sri Lanka face the possibility of a follow-on. Junaid's spell has given them hope.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tim on July 6, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    @Muhammad Ahmed - you are right of course - and in any case I think Anderson's wickets were at Galle, so I was doubly wrong! Nevertheless, the point remains - the England bowlers took wickets on subcontinental picthes earlier this year. And indeed took wickets against Pakistan in the UAE - it was the batsmen that struggled!

  • kosala on July 4, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    Sri Lanka should find a opening batsman who think about the team , not playing for him self like Thirimanna.. Beter include some one give positive to side..this is like watching Chamara Silva..

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    @RedRoseMan,England played at the P.Sara !!!!!!!!!! go at this link

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    Wasim Akram was a great bowler. It will be great if Junaid can emulate Wasim's achievements and help Pakistan win many matches. All the best.

  • Tim on July 4, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 - you have a very short memory!! On the same ground just over three months ago Jimmy Anderson took 5-72 in the first innings and Graeme Swann 6-82 in the second. Swann then went on to take ten wickets in the second Test at Colombo. But don't let facts get in the way of opinions!

    Great to see Junaid doing well, though - he played for my county, Lancashire, last season and he looks a great prospect.

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Junaid bowled well in this match and he definitely has a bright future ahead of him. But he needs to be given time to find his place in international Cricket. He is still very young. To Gol something. Yea, Sreesanth, Nehra and other Indian bowlers are all world class right!! India has never produced any world class bowlers, and never will. The best you folks can do is, Kapil Dev, who played more matches just to break Hadlee's record.

  • rahul on July 4, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    most bowlers of sa , aus , eng always complain of subcontinental pitches . they should learn from junaid khan . a five - for at ssc , colombo . junaid has proved that good bowlers can take wkts on every surface . i salute him .

  • VENKATACHALAM on July 4, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    More than the IPL, these are the kind of pitches that kill Test Cricket. And India will role out 4 of them against England this winter

  • Amjad on July 4, 2012, 4:56 GMT

    Good job by Junaid Khan !!!

  • Amjad on July 4, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    @golgoal: Define average please. 5 wickets in an innings in his 2nd test match, if you call that an average bowler then I suppose it wouldn't be fair to call the Srilankan bowlers as 'bowlers'. BTW that Pradeep guy isn't a bowler to be honest!

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