| Umar Gul kneels down to kiss the ground after he took his fifth wicket in Lahore on Monday
Lahore: Usually, players need some time (at least) to really prepare for the big occasion. Umar Gul didn’t get any, but still produced a career-best effort — five for 31 — at the Gaddafi to send the star-studded Team India into convulsions.
“It’s shortly before the game that I was told about my inclusion in place of Shabbir (Ahmed)... However, I wasn’t tense. After all, the other day, all of us had been asked to mentally prepare (for the second Test),” Gul remarked.
[Shabbir was left out as he again complained of pain in the right shin.]
Speaking after the delayed stumps, Gul added: “It helped that I wasn’t overawed bowling to the Sachin Tendulkars... Main khali yeh soch ke gaya ki mujhe apna kaam karna hai...” That kaam was bowling stump-to-stump.
“Both captain (Inzamam-ul Haq) and coach (Javed Miandad) had spelt out the fast bowlers’ role and, so, I knew exactly what was expected of me...,”Gul, who turns 20 next week, pointed out.
Besides an excellent line, using the crease and consistently hitting the seam, Gul didn’t get carried away. Obviously, he has a mature head or else wouldn’t have picked up Virender Sehwag, Sachin, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Parthiv Patel within 47 deliveries.
Cramps forced him to go off after his only (12-over) spell, otherwise it’s possible that the Yuvraj Singh-Irfan Pathan partnership wouldn’t have flourished to the extent it did.
Later, briefly talking to The Telegraph, Gul said he looked up to “Wasim Akram and Glenn McGrath” as heroes. Both should be delighted having worshippers such as him.
This is Gul’s first season in international cricket and he must already have become an idol for many back in native Peshawar. As somebody quipped, dozens of Kalashnikovs would have gone off in and around that border town once he got wicket No. 5 (Patel).