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I was scapegoated over one bad performance: Junaid Khan

“In my view, there was really no reason for my exclusion from the World Cup squad,” says the pacer. Photo: AFP

Fast bowler Junaid Khan has said that he was dropped from Pakistan’s World Cup 2019 squad over just one bad performance when he was doing no worse than any other bowler on the roster at the time.

The left-arm pacer was part of the provisional squad for the tournament and had even played in the pre-World Cup ODI series again England.

He was eventually cut from the final squad, especially in the light of the 4th ODI against England when he leaked 85 runs in his 10 overs and picked up just one wicket. In the only other ODI he featured in that series, he had finished with figures of 57-1 in 8 overs, which does lend credence to his hunch.

“In my view, there was really no reason for my exclusion but then the Pakistan selectors can probably explain their decisions much better and shed light on this issue,” Junaid is quoted as saying by Pak Passion.

“It was them, along with the [then] Pakistan head coach (Mickey Arthur), who decided to drop me from the original squad, and no one really explained the reasons to me.”

“I felt that my fitness was good and only in the final game of the ODI series against England before the World Cup was my performance not up to the mark but then I was no worse than the other bowlers in the Pakistan line-up so that really couldn’t have been the issue.

“To drop a senior player from the squad of such an important tournament based upon one performance does not normally happen and it was very disappointing.”

Junaid said that he was rooting for Pakistan despite what happened, but the team “didn’t perform well, and my disappointment was doubled by that”.

‘Only Mickey Arthur can answer why I was cut’

He had good things to say about Arthur even if he feels cutting him from the squad could have been the South African’s call.

“Mickey Arthur was a good coach in my view as we won the Champions Trophy in 2017 under his guidance. He was very good in explaining himself and guiding players and those were his best qualities,” Junaid said.

“I had a good relationship with Mickey Arthur and felt that he supported me well, but I am not sure why when it came to the World Cup, he decided to drop me. This is a question that only Mickey can answer.”

“‘Gagged’ photo was my way of expressing disappointment”

Overcome with emotions, the Swabi-born had tweeted a gagged photo of himself in the wake of his removal from the squad, with its caption saying: “I don't want to say anything. Truth is bitter.” He had later deleted the post following backlash.

When asked if he regrets sharing that picture, Junaid said: “In my view, a player in such a situation is justified in expressing his disappointment. In my case, I decided to say what is in my heart in a different way.

“The picture I posted was the only way I could really show my disappointment which to me was a better way of saying what I felt without writing something hurtful.”

“The PCB allows us to post appropriate pictures on social media ... but later when I started to get messages from my fans saying that the picture I posted could hurt the image of our country, I decided to delete that tweet. As a Pakistani, I would never want my country’s name to be spoiled.”

‘Excited to work with Waqar Younis’

Junaid seemed excited with another opportunity to work with Waqar Younis, who appears set to become Pakistan’s new bowling coach.

“If you were to ask Pakistani bowlers about having Waqar Younis as a bowling coach then you will definitely find a lot of excitement and favourable opinions,” he said.

“Even when Waqar Younis was not the coach for Pakistan, he would always give me good advice about my bowling and I would be happy to have him as our bowling coach and if he does became the head coach too, then it will be doubly good.”

Read the full interview on Pak Passion