World Cup 2011 semi-final defeat to India my biggest regret: Umar Gul

Faizan Lakhani
Umar Gul in conversation with Geo Super.

Fast bowler Umar Gul hung up his boots after playing his the final professional cricket game of his career on Friday – a national T20 Cup semi-final clash between Balochistan and Southern Punjab.

The 36-year-old pacer, known as Guldozer due to his toe-crushing yorkers, spoke to Geo Super after his last game and talked about his career and future plans.

The biggest regret of his life, he said, was not being able to perform against India in the World Cup 2011 semi-final at Mohali.

READUmar Gul gets guard of honour, delivers emotional speech upon retirement

Gul had conceded 69 runs in his 8 wicket-less overs in the semi -final that Pakistan lost to its arch-rival by 29 runs as the Men in Green failed to chase a target of 261.

“I will always regret that I couldn’t perform in that match. That defeat hurts me, and will continue to hurt me,” Gul said while talking to this correspondent on Saturday evening.

“I believe that it was a match Pakistan deserved to win. We were in top form during the tournament but against India in the semi-final, we couldn’t do what we were able to."

Umar had 14 wickets in seven games before the semi-final, but in Mohali it wasn’t his day. The fast bowler says that the Indians attacked him from the beginning and he couldn’t do much.

However, despite the hammering, Pakistan did manage to restrict India to 260 but the batting collapsed and failed to chase the target.

“As long as Hafeez was playing, I was confident. Everyone was confident that we are going to chase but after his wicket we couldn’t get any more partnerships,” he recalled.

Gul, like many, was also surprised to see the LBW decision against Sachin  Tendulkar being overturned by the third umpire after the Indian batsmen opted for DRS.

“Everyone on the ground was confident that Sachin was out and everyone was surprised to see what DRS showed. I don’t know what happened there but it looked like that it was out. If we had managed to take Sachin’s wicket earlier, the result of match could have been different,” he said.

Gul added that whenever a player from Pakistan performs against India, he becomes a superstar overnight and that’s why his spell against India in Lahore Test during 2004 series is still one of his best performances.

The other one, as mentioned by Gul himself, was his record performance in the T20 World Cup against New Zealand in 2009.

“My career had several ups and downs, mostly because of injuries, but I remained focus and made a good comeback every time. Throughout my career, I was supported by my fans and they’re my biggest assets,” he mentioned.

“I always remained focused on my goals and my targets. During tours, I kept myself busy at the ground and in training. Socialising was never my thing and that’s why I remained away from controversies despite being surrounded by glamourous cricketers of era,” he said.

'Give respect to first-class cricket'

Gul, while talking about his career, said that he was able to do better and survive for long because he did a lot of hard work in first-class cricket and at the academy. He advised the younger generation to respect first-class cricket and insisted that performances in red-ball cricket should be the criteria for selection of any youngster in national team.

“First-class cricket makes you a complete cricketer. Without it, you won’t know what is required in cricket – especially in Test cricket. A player should play two or three season of first class cricket before coming into national team,” he said.

“A lot of cricketers are now not interested in red-ball cricket. They’re least bothered about playing Test cricket because they know they can earn good money by playing a shorter version of the game. Even here in Pakistan, players mostly just aim to perform well in the National T20 Cup so they can get picked by PSL teams. This way should be discouraged. The criteria for selection should be first-class cricket, not the Pakistan Super League,” the former pacer, also a member of PCB's Cricket Committee, said.

Gul further said that Shaheen Shah Afridi "is the best learner among the present lot of fast bowlers". He said that Naseem Shah will have to work hard on his fitness if he wants to play the longer format.

Replying to a question, Umar Gul said that it is now time for him to return what he earned from Pakistan cricket.

“I want to at least produce one or two fast bowlers who can win matches for Pakistan,” the fast bowler concluded.

READ'Match-winner, wonderful human being': Pakistan's cricket fraternity pays tribute to Umar Gul

World Cup 2011 semi-final defeat to India my biggest regret: Umar Gul