Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Road to the WorldCup (Part 3)

Another Bright Prospect for Pakistan??

Pakistan Cricket is known throughout the World for churning out raw talent onto grand stages and getting the best out of it. May it be the swashbuckling Inzi of '92 or the canny little Mohammad Aamer of '09. 
Pakistan, especially, has a way of producing talented fast bowlers that no other country can parallel; the streets. With a minimal of effort, the nation gets the finest and speediest of mavericks that set any and every stage ablaze when they are on song.
A rising star among this newest crop of fast bowlers, consisting of  the likes of the tainted-yet-talented Aamer and the belligerent Wahab, is the Matra (A town in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) born left arm seamer Junaid Khan. He had been on the selector's radar for quiet some time with his impressive performances in First Class games. He claimed 167 scalps in the 35 matches he played with the his first class side, Abbotabad. That puts it to almost 4.7 wickets a match which is at par with Aamer's average of 4.3 (from 20 games). Well there is no way of comparing the 'reflection' of Wasim Akram [sic; commentators and cricket pundits] with a young guy who has yet to make his mark on the international stage but what I am trying to point out is that this guy here is of an aggressive mentality and would definitely be of great asset to our side's new ball attack amidst the absence of M. Aamer.
The selectors got this point, albeit a bit late, when they announced that Junaid was to replace the unfit (& useless) Sohail Tanvir just as the WC clock struck 11. It came as a surprise to all - here is this unheard-of cricketer who gets a chance to debut on the glittering stage of the cricket extravaganza with no prior practice apart from a bunch of domestic games. His selection news spread as wildfire among the online and 'offline' cricketing circles of Pakistan. His bowling videos got madly sought after. His Cricinfo profile got 2k+ likes in a week (more than that of Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhter and Younis Khan!!). He has got the cricket lovers in Pakistan crazy...but what for?
Well the closest I can get to answer this question is that the cricket lovers in Pakistan are desperately looking for a fast bowler to fill the gaping void left by the sudden departure of Aamer. He had such an uplifting levity to his character and such boyish charm that people loved watching the lad have a go at the best in business (Clarke, Ponting, Tendulkar and likes). He had also been such a talented, precocious player that at the tender age of 17, he looked a Wasim Akram reincarnate on the field. And thus his loss had left an average cricket-follower in Pakistan dumbfounded. In comes, Junaid Khan. Who? A left arm pacer. Talent? Full to the brim. Pace? Excellent. Atleast I got a feeling of déjà vu when I came to hear about him. To me he is to be and has to be capable of delivering Aamer-esque performances. And I bet that many Pakistan cricket followers won't differ with me here.

So now just analyze this talk of the town a bit...
But first lets have a look at him bowling in the recently concluded Faysal Bank T20 Cup 2010.

Action: Well as far as one can analyze from the videos an images...(after noticing the fact that his action is 99% like Wayne Parnell's; Click to Enlarge)

    • His elbow is prone to hyper-extension, much like Shoaib Akhter, which can be a problem because umpires and opposition batsmen can report him for chucking (albeit erroneously). But let me tell you people that it may look weird but it isn't chucking at all because chucking occurs when the elbow is bent when delivering the cricket ball but in Junaid's case it is just extended beyond its natural stopping point and not bent. To support my fact here, I have quoted Wiki...
In a recent report by scientists commissioned by the ICC under the watch of the former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding, it was shown that Pakistani bowler Shoaib Akhtar and Indian bowler R. P. Singh were seen to extend their elbow joints by a negative angle with respect to the upper arm. This phenomenon, also known as hyperextension, can give the illusion of throwing. However, in the report it was seen that R. P. Singh maintained this negative angle throughout his delivery stride, while Akhtar sometimes bowled a quicker delivery by flexing this hyperextension. The actions are not considered to be chucking as they are exacerbated by a congenital condition. The prevailing judgement is that as long as the hyperextension does not exceed 15 degrees while bowling it is permitted. - Wikipedia  
    • His front knee gets bent in delivery stride, much like Wayne Parnell, which reduces the height he delivers the ball from and can curtail his effectiveness in extracting bounce.
    • Run-up is good and hurried.
    • He has a slightly side-on action with a quick turning and bending of the trunk which can put some stress on his back.
    • His right hands stops obscuring the ball a bit too early. This would bestow upon the batsmen precious time to read him beforehand.
    • Furthermore his right arm just stays bent during the delivery stride and doesn't complete a good circle which can greatly affect his pace because the revolution of the non-bowling arm can create a moment about the pelvic region that can speed up his bowling arm.
Pace: Well I predict it to be between 135-145 kph.
Movement: Well as far as I can see he can move the ball away from the right handers and get it in for the left handers, much like Aamer. But if he gets a bit closer to the wicket then he can have the added benefit of getting the ball into the right handers as well.

Well, thankfully, there is not a lot to worry about  here because he will have legendary players like Waqar, Shoaib and Aaqib around to help him. All that remains in question is that will he live up to the monstrous expectations from him?

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