Sky is the limit for Umar Gul

Published: Friday, April 9, 2004, 1:16 [IST]
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Lahore :Umar Gul, Pakistan's trump card in the second cricket Test against India at Lahore, may have jumped the gun by reaching out for the stumps before a win had been achieved, but his timing in the first innings devastation of India was just perfect.

The affable seamer from the squash fertile town of Nawa-e-Kali near Peshawar was so eager to celebrate the win that he took one of the stumps out to keep it as a souvenir as soon as the Indians were bowled out in their second innings on Thursday.

"I picked up the stump to keep it as a souvenir but teammates reminded me we need 40 runs to win," said a beaming Gul, deservedly declared Man-of-the-Match for his five for 31 which saw India being bundled out for 287 in the first innings.

Gul, who produced a beauty of a delivery to bowl VVS Laxman in the second essay, did not hesitate in declaring that ball 'the best delivery I have ever bowled. I hope, many will follow in my career.'

For Gul, former great Wasim Akram's call was a source of motivation.

"'Bowl straight and not fast, keep a line and length and you will be rewarded', this is what Wasim told me."

Gul, son of a farmer, hails from a town in northern Pakistan, which produced squash greats like Hashim Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan and Mohibullah

However, Wasim and Australian Glenn McGrath have been Gul's childhood heroes.

"In my childhood I dreamt to follow the footsteps of great bowlers like Wasim and McGrath and I am happy that I have made my mark."

As a 17-year-old, Gul hogged the limelight when he was picked for Pakistan Under-19 to play in the ICC Junior World Cup in New Zealand two years ago. He finished as leading wickettaker for Pakistan and his reward was a place in the national team the next year.

Wasim and former Pakistan pacer Rashid Khan, who played in the 1983 World Cup, helped Umar groom in the Pakistan International Airlines team.

Gul was one of the four youngsters to make their Test debut against Bangladesh in Karachi last year, the team's transition phase after their first round exit from the World Cup. He took 16 wickets in Pakistan's 3-0 rout of Bangladesh with a match-haul of eight wickets at Multan.

After the nine-wicket defeat today, India's stand-in captain Rahul Dravid admitted "Gul proved a surprise packet for us and he was a good selection for Pakistan in this Test."

Gul expectedly won praise from skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq.

"He used to see Wasim Akram bowl in the nets and now he is bowling and Wasim is watching on television," said Inzamam.

But for Gul sky is the limit. "This is just the beginning, I want to emulate Wasim and McGrath although I know it is not an easy job."

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