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Following in McGrath’s footsteps

Rawalpindi: Hailing from a hamlet outside Peshawar, Umer Gul might well have followed in the footsteps of local squash greats Hashim, Jahangir and Jansher Khan who dominated their sport for decades.

Instead, the 19-year-old Gul was inspired by the sight of Australian paceman Glenn McGrath on television and attracted by the folklore of Pakistani cricket.

“I think McGrath is a great bowler,” Gul said a day after another fine bowling performance enhanced his reputation as a quick bowler of great potential.

“Pakistan have also produced some great fast bowlers and I am proud to be following in their footsteps but McGrath has always inspired me and I have modelled my action and bowling on him.”

The tall, well-built swing bowler destroyed Bangladesh in the third one-day International in Lahore on Monday with career-best figures of five for 17.

“There was bounce in the pitch and some movement.

“I got my outswinger going and I enjoyed bowling against them,” he said.

Gul had played just nine first-class matches when the Pakistan selectors decided to entrust him with the new ball in the wake of their decision to sideline Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis after a disappointing World Cup earlier this year.

Gul’s figures of 15 wickets in 10 one-day matches and 15 in three Tests might not have set the world on fire but his return of 51 wickets in nine first-class matches prompted the selectors to try him out.

Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud said after Gul’s demolition act on Monday that he had caused problems for the batsmen because he was very consistent with his line — a trademark of the Australian fast bowler.

“Yes, I try to be consistent. I know that if I keep on bowling in the corridor on or around the off-stump the batsman will make a mistake,” Gul said.

“I have learnt a lot from watching McGrath on television,” he added. “He is so consistent and smooth.

Our coach Javed Miandad has also been working with me on improving my accuracy and pace by making me bowl at one mark.”

Pakistan have produced fast bowlers such as Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, all with great pace and the ability to reverse swing the ball.

Gul is different. Lacking raw pace, he relies heavily on accuracy and consistency to unnerve batsmen.

Miandad believes Gul is destined for a great future.

“He works very hard on his cricket and fitness.

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