After speedsters Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Asif’s date with controversy, heads turned to Umar Gul to spearhead Pakistan’s pace attack in 2006. It had been three years since Gul made his debut in 2003 at Sharjah, replacing the Pakistani spell that failed to impress during the World Cup. With a flowing high-arm action, Gul’s precision, panache with swing, and ability to bowl yorkers at will meant in him, Pakistan found its replacement for the legendary Waqar Younis.
Gul’s champagne moment came in 2004, when he ripped through the world-class Indian batting line-up on tour to take his first five-for. A multiple stress fracture halted his progress, forcing him to sit through the whole of 2005. He returned in 2006, but unfortunately, it coincided with Pakistan’s slump in Test form. He did help Pakistan to its last Test series victory, against West Indies.
Gul continued to do well in the longer and shorter forms, earning first favour with the rubber in the 2007 World Cup, though poor batting performances saw the team making an early exit from the tournament. As Twenty20 cricket grew popular, Gul soon became the World’s finest in the format. He helped them to a final spot in the 2007 World Twenty20, eventually lifting the trophy in 2008.
In 2012, Gul was signed up by Uva Next for the inaugural edition of the Sri Lanka Premier League, and helped them win the Twenty20 competition. Later that year, he was also named in the squad for their maiden Champions League T20.