Was highly frustrated and felt let down: Junaid Khan opens up on World Cup snub
Junaid Khan bowls against England in May. (AFP Image)

A hurt Junaid Khan feels he is still capable of playing top-level cricket for Pakistan following his omission from the team’s World Cup squad. Junaid, who last played for Pakistan during the ODI series in England, was named in the preliminary squad but later axed when the final 15 names were announced.

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As part of a “silent protest”, Junaid took to social media and posted a picture of himself – his mouth taped with a captain: I don’t want to say anything. Truth is bitter (Sach karwa hota hai). It was met with a lot of negative reaction and Junaid ended up removing the post. For the first time, since being dropped, Junaid opened up on what he went through when he found out he won’t get to play the World Cup.

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“When I was highly frustrated with the treatment rendered to me by the team management, I posted a picture of mine on social media, as a token of soft protest. I was highly let down and was in huge pain, but no one from the PCB contacted me. A number of my fans and followers contacted me and convinced me to remove the post as it will bring bad name to the country, so I removed it. Obviously, as a Pakistani and a cricketer, I will never do something, which is against my country,” Junaid told The Nation.

“With the arrival of MD Wasim Khan and new management, I am hopeful of getting justice and opportunity to represent Pakistan again. I had countless offers in England to play full-time league cricket, but I always put Pakistan way ahead of my personal ambitions. As a Pakhtoon, I reacted somewhat not in suitable way and I do agree with that, but if one puts himself in my place, he will understand the problem I had been facing.”

Junaid’s career has been repeatedly derailed due to injuries, but Pakistan went on to recall him for the ODI series against Australia and later in England. In the UAE, Junaid played three matches and picked up four wickets, including 3/73 in the final ODI in Dubai as Pakistan were drubbed 0-5. In England, he picked two wickets in two games but bled 142 runs. It was then that the Pakistan team management decided to go ahead with Wahab Riaz instead of Riaz, which was believed to be another shocking move considering just a few days before the final squad was announced, former coach Mickey Arthur had not been speaking too much his favour of Riaz.

In 76 ODIs, Junaid has 110 wickets including a best of 4/12. His numbers could have been better, had he gotten more opportunities outside of the sub-continent, Junaid reckons.

“I have taken a lot of crucial wickets for Pakistan team and helped it win countless matches. I always given my 100 percent and people must understand that I have played majority of my cricket on UAE, Bangladesh and Sri Lankan slow tracks; even then my performances are no secret. If I had played on bouncy tracks of Australia, South Africa or England, I could have taken loads more wickets,” he said.

There have been reports which state that Junaid along with a few more players are unlikely to get new PCB central contracts. Although the players could get enhancements in their monthly salaries and match fees, the board has decided now to only award contracts to players who have done well in the last one year and have a future with the Pakistan team. However, with Mohammad Amir having retired from Tests and Wahab Riaz struggling to cement a place in the XI, the gates might reopen for Junaid.

“I always believe in hard work and I want to play cricket for Pakistan. I know I can shoulder the burden and can fill the huge gap left by Aamir and Wahab, while everybody knows, Pakistan team is badly missing a wicket-taking bowler up front, who may bamboozle any given batting order. I can assure the PCB that I am the one, who can resolve all problems and can provide wickets at the top. If provided with chances, I will never let down the team and the country,” he said.