Junaid Khan said he wanted to fill the void left in Pakistan’s pace attack by the absence of his close friend and one-time bowling partner Mohammad Aamer.
The 21-year-old took a maiden five-wicket haul to help Pakistan dismiss Sri Lanka for a low score of 197 on the opening day of the first Test at Abu Dhabi stadium.
“I will do my best to fill the void and do as well as my team needs,” said Khan, whose 5-38 rocked the formidable Sri Lankan batting. “I am delighted with my effort but all the bowlers did well as no one man can get a team out.”
Khan hails from Abbottabad in North-Western Pakistan, a town where Osama Bin Laden was killed by American Special Forces in May this year, played most of his cricket with Aamer.
The duo, both left-arm pacemen, toured various countries with Pakistan junior teams between 2005 and 2009 before the more talented Aamer was picked for Pakistan’s seniors.
Khan said the pitch at Abu Dhabi stadium was responsive.
“There was a little bit of seam early but otherwise, I used the yorker and mixed the bowling up and it’s pleasing to get them out for a low score,” said Khan, who hoped Pakistan put up 300-350 for a winning lead.
Khan got just one wicket on his debut Test, against Zimbabwe last month.
Khan said legendary Pakistan pacemen Imran Khan and Wasim Akram were his idols but he developed into a good bowler only under Waqar Younis’s coaching.
“I am quite lucky that way. During the World Cup (2011), there was Aaqib Javed and Waqar and alongside them Wasim also gave tips when he came on how to bowl. I started playing cricket only after watching Imran.
“When I went to Lancashire, Wasim used to call me and tell me how to bowl, how to use the conditions,” said Khan. “That stint was very helpful. I learnt there how to seam, how to swing the ball, how to bowl a yorker.”
Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews, who topscored with 52 not out, was disappointed with the overall batting performance.
“We lost our way in the second session and the batsmen did not bat well.
“The second session made a huge difference where we lost six wickets in four five overs and that was bad,” said Mathews, who added 54 for the eighth wicket with Suranga Lakmal (18).
Mathews denied the pitch was difficult for batting on.
“It was a pretty good batting wicket. Whoever hits the wicket hard had a bit off a nip off the wicket. All in all it was a very good wicket and Khan did hit the deck hard and got the reward,” said Mathews.
“Obviously its the first day of the Test match and we have got four days left. I strongly believe that our bowlers can still get us back into the game,” said Mathews, whose fifty was his fourth in the last five innings.