Afghanistan v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Fatullah February 27, 2014

Akmal's learning from his mistake

Umar Akmal batted like he did against Sri Lanka on Tuesday evening, with a lot of awe-inspiring shots particularly through the on side
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After Pakistan's 12-run loss to Sri Lanka two days ago, Misbah-ul-Haq had rued Umar Akmal's dismissal, which he thought was ill-timed. If there had been one more of those, against Afghanistan, Pakistan's collapse would have spread to the tail faster and resulted in a more difficult second half of the game.

In the Asia Cup opener, Akmal and Misbah added 121 runs for the fifth wicket, which took their chase to an advanced stage. Pakistan still had six wickets in hand when they entered the last 10 overs, but Akmal fell to a wide Suranga Lakmal delivery that could have been resisted even at that stage of the game. Pakistan lost their way from that point, as Misbah was unable to force the chase without a solid enforcer at the other end.

On Tuesday too, Akmal did give a chance when batting on 28 but Samiullah Shenwari misjudged the skier at point. It kept Pakistan on 146 for 6, but it could have been a lot worse. It was unusual to see Akmal bat that way, despite having such a wide repertoire of shots.

Some numbers also back him. Since August 2009, when he made his ODI debut, he has scored more runs than MS Dhoni among the No. 6 batsmen in matches won. In all games, Akmal is the second-highest scorer at the position during the same period, this time behind Dhoni. He averages less than Dhoni due to the Indian captain's ability to stay unbeaten more often.

It is clearly not a comparison with Dhoni but just circumstantial, and these figures demonstrate how important a batsman Akmal is to Pakistan's one-day setup, as well as being an effective No. 6, which he displayed during his hundred.

Akmal batted like he did against Sri Lanka on Tuesday evening, with a lot of awe-inspiring shots particularly through the on side. He used the bottom hand very well, particularly in the end overs. He ended up hitting seven fours and three sixes, bringing the momentum back to Pakistan.

He had arrived at the crease on the back of Misbah's comical run-out in the 24th over. He saw Sohaib Maqsood and Shahid Afridi hand more advantage to Afghanistan, but with Anwar Ali, Akmal wrested back the control.

Akmal added 60 runs with Anwar for the seventh wicket and another 40 for the eighth wicket with Umar Gul. It helped setup a final thrust, which got them 48 runs in the last five overs.

For a batting line-up that was in tatters before the 30th over, the last push was invaluable. Right at the end, Akmal decided to play out the final over, which enabled him to reach his second ODI hundred too. He celebrated long and hard upon reaching the landmark, which would definitely seem out of place for an innings against a less-experienced bowling attack.

But it was a personal triumph for Akmal, having now corrected his mistake that was so crucial in the defeat to Sri Lanka. This time he didn't disappoint his captain with a silly shot, sometimes that can be a big enough triumph.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Altruistic on February 28, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    Umar akmal is a very prolific batsmen...The time when all other batsmen are scoring at strike rate of 60-70 and some 5 men down..he comes and score almost at run a ball and with ease..he should be given a chance at 2 men down which will take most out of him and let him mature as a batsmen and with the all the shots in his armory and technique he has all the capability to become the one of the great batsmen of modern era...

  • romirom on March 1, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    he is always a telented player pak has ever produced. Even with so much ups and down he has still maintain healthy bating avg of 37 which is not bad at all. I think there should be problem in dressing room which halts young player to perform as their potential. So many player in past few years came performed and suddenly fade away. There must be problem in system. No body help these young talent to groom. Seniour batsman like misbah sud took some bold step to protect them like promote maqsood at no. 3 and ask him to play his natural game. Make him confident that he will not gona loose his place in team if he fails 2 or 3 innings. Hafiz and afridi is the culprist in tis team. I am not against playing them in the team but their bating order is main problem. Hafiz is nt no. 3 and afridi is not no. 7 kind of batsman. Hafiz strugle against swing and afridi perform once in 10 or 15 matcher. Hafiz sud bat at no 7 and afridi sud at no 8 or 9. in swing pitch only one sud play among these two.

  • mzm149 on February 28, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    @mars2009: It's quite ridiculous to think that if Sharjeel is first player from Hyderabad to play in the team, he should be automatic choice no matter how pathetic he has been so far. He has played docile bowling attacks of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan so far on featherbeds of UAE and Bangladesh and has been consistently showing bad performance. He has no footwork, no timing and no sense of shot selection. He is slogging all the time. I suggested Hafeez to open because we have no other opener in the squad. Hafeez isn't opening material either but he is better player on slow tracks of subcontinent against weak bowling.

    If one player from every city is a must in the team then I am afraid Pakistan will have to play a team of more than 100 players.

  • pull_shot on February 28, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    @ Omer Farooq Kohli failed outside subcontinent, u guys comment instantaneously with out thinking he has 3 test centuries (almost 4 with one 98) + odi's 1 each in Aus,Eng,Win,Nz,Zim and what has omar akmal done 2 centuries but he bats down d order

  • muddassirqayyum on February 28, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Can't you people read or what, he has clearly written that Akmal has scored more runs than Dhoni who also bats at and one smart guy decided to compare him with Virat who bats at 3. While, others are yapping about how he does not perform and gets out. That is why we Pakistanis simply do not deserve to have a player of his caliber playing and we wonder that why not we produce world class batsmen. Look at yourself, all of you are criticizing a batsman who won you the game single handed.

  • on February 28, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    I know Akmal is a good player and he has done well in the past but about yesterday he got lucky and Shinwari gifted him the century otherwise he would have been out in 20s not century bad luck Afghanistan good luck Pakistan

  • SamRoy on February 28, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    Akmal has a problem. He hits too many shots in the air similar to Michael Clarke in his youth. If he stops hitting the ball in the air he will be a very fine player.

  • cricraz on February 28, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Omer, Umar is talented but extremely inconsistent. He is more like Rohit Sharma talented but not fulfilled their potential. Virat on the other hand has been consistent all over the world. He has better average in Australia than India. He has the lowest average in West Indies( earlier part of his career). Kohli has surprised most Indians with his consistency and hard work because he was always viewed as hot headed brash Delhite! Akmal is wonderful stroke player but he has way too many soft dismissals like Rohit Sharma.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 28, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    For success, no. 3 and 4 are the most important batting position. If you are 4 down then even if your 5 and 6 hit centuries, they won't be scoring at high strike rate as they will have to be careful in their choice of shots. Unless 3&4 succeed, Pakistan is out of it.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 28, 2014, 0:42 GMT

    Akmal won't be scoring in all the matches regardless of his talent. Top 4 have to start contributing, specially Hafeez and Maqsood are the real culprits.

  • Altruistic on February 28, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    Umar akmal is a very prolific batsmen...The time when all other batsmen are scoring at strike rate of 60-70 and some 5 men down..he comes and score almost at run a ball and with ease..he should be given a chance at 2 men down which will take most out of him and let him mature as a batsmen and with the all the shots in his armory and technique he has all the capability to become the one of the great batsmen of modern era...

  • romirom on March 1, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    he is always a telented player pak has ever produced. Even with so much ups and down he has still maintain healthy bating avg of 37 which is not bad at all. I think there should be problem in dressing room which halts young player to perform as their potential. So many player in past few years came performed and suddenly fade away. There must be problem in system. No body help these young talent to groom. Seniour batsman like misbah sud took some bold step to protect them like promote maqsood at no. 3 and ask him to play his natural game. Make him confident that he will not gona loose his place in team if he fails 2 or 3 innings. Hafiz and afridi is the culprist in tis team. I am not against playing them in the team but their bating order is main problem. Hafiz is nt no. 3 and afridi is not no. 7 kind of batsman. Hafiz strugle against swing and afridi perform once in 10 or 15 matcher. Hafiz sud bat at no 7 and afridi sud at no 8 or 9. in swing pitch only one sud play among these two.

  • mzm149 on February 28, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    @mars2009: It's quite ridiculous to think that if Sharjeel is first player from Hyderabad to play in the team, he should be automatic choice no matter how pathetic he has been so far. He has played docile bowling attacks of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan so far on featherbeds of UAE and Bangladesh and has been consistently showing bad performance. He has no footwork, no timing and no sense of shot selection. He is slogging all the time. I suggested Hafeez to open because we have no other opener in the squad. Hafeez isn't opening material either but he is better player on slow tracks of subcontinent against weak bowling.

    If one player from every city is a must in the team then I am afraid Pakistan will have to play a team of more than 100 players.

  • pull_shot on February 28, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    @ Omer Farooq Kohli failed outside subcontinent, u guys comment instantaneously with out thinking he has 3 test centuries (almost 4 with one 98) + odi's 1 each in Aus,Eng,Win,Nz,Zim and what has omar akmal done 2 centuries but he bats down d order

  • muddassirqayyum on February 28, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Can't you people read or what, he has clearly written that Akmal has scored more runs than Dhoni who also bats at and one smart guy decided to compare him with Virat who bats at 3. While, others are yapping about how he does not perform and gets out. That is why we Pakistanis simply do not deserve to have a player of his caliber playing and we wonder that why not we produce world class batsmen. Look at yourself, all of you are criticizing a batsman who won you the game single handed.

  • on February 28, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    I know Akmal is a good player and he has done well in the past but about yesterday he got lucky and Shinwari gifted him the century otherwise he would have been out in 20s not century bad luck Afghanistan good luck Pakistan

  • SamRoy on February 28, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    Akmal has a problem. He hits too many shots in the air similar to Michael Clarke in his youth. If he stops hitting the ball in the air he will be a very fine player.

  • cricraz on February 28, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Omer, Umar is talented but extremely inconsistent. He is more like Rohit Sharma talented but not fulfilled their potential. Virat on the other hand has been consistent all over the world. He has better average in Australia than India. He has the lowest average in West Indies( earlier part of his career). Kohli has surprised most Indians with his consistency and hard work because he was always viewed as hot headed brash Delhite! Akmal is wonderful stroke player but he has way too many soft dismissals like Rohit Sharma.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 28, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    For success, no. 3 and 4 are the most important batting position. If you are 4 down then even if your 5 and 6 hit centuries, they won't be scoring at high strike rate as they will have to be careful in their choice of shots. Unless 3&4 succeed, Pakistan is out of it.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 28, 2014, 0:42 GMT

    Akmal won't be scoring in all the matches regardless of his talent. Top 4 have to start contributing, specially Hafeez and Maqsood are the real culprits.

  • IAS2009 on February 28, 2014, 0:17 GMT

    number 6 position should belong to player like Dhoni and Michael Beven, players who reads the game with cool head, Pakistan lost the game to SL from a winnable situation, they lost a game with 6 wickets in hand, 2 set batsman, run a ball with 5 fielder rule, on flat to slow pitch, now they have to win against India a must (they will loose to india, they always do in global tournament to India), so that how important that rash shoot from Umar Akmal was, Misbah can fulfil that role, but he don't rotate the strike and always get out to a high risk shot, i am not sure any one else in the team with cool head, Afridi clicks once every 5 game that how predictable his failure is, Pakistan need to develop that player, with their bowling so good it is so sad to see the state of batting.

  • Desihungama on February 27, 2014, 23:14 GMT

    @mars- Team should represent Pakistan not a charity. Provincialism are for losers. Don't care where players comes from, what ethnicity color creed. If Punjab offers best players then be it from Punjab. The honor is not for Hyderabad, the honor is on Sharjeel to represent Pakistan. Cheers

  • on February 27, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    Umar Akmal Should Bat Up The Order at No. 3 or 4 . Then Only He Will Come Up With Scores. ....

  • on February 27, 2014, 20:08 GMT

    Mr.Omer Farooq

    Akmal is special talent

    But This is Virat kohli for you

    Mashrafe Mortaza to Kohli, 1 run, he gets to his 19th ODI century with a dab to third man! How does he do these feats so easily! How doesn any bowling attack solve a problem like Kohli?

    Virat Kohli - 19th ODI 100. 2nd this year. 3rd v Bangladesh. 3rd as Captain. 13th Batting 2nd. Will be 17th hundred in a winning cause if India win."

    "This is almost like in the Avengers movie, where Loki intimidates Tony Stark saying he has a whole army of aliens, and Stark simply replies - We have the Hulk! Well, we have Virat!"

  • bouncer709 on February 27, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    "After Pakistan's 12-run loss to Sri Lanka two days ago, Misbah-ul-Haq had rued Umar Akmal's dismissal, which he thought was ill-timed."..... and how Misbah got out against Sri Lanka?... more ill time than Umer Akmal as always he do when the game is near to finish in Pakistan favour.....

  • DurtyWurk on February 27, 2014, 19:52 GMT

    @Akhsami, I completely disagree with you regarding Maqsood. He is a great batsmen with tons of potential and needs to be given more chances. He played well against Sri Lanka and South Africa and is completely justified in being part of the team.

  • on February 27, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    well i dnt know why every 1 iz compairing u akmal with kohli....i dont think kohli is an excelent batsmen...bcz he failed..when playing outside of subcontinent...wht i think u akmal shoul idealizzz Ab divilies of South Africa....what an excelent player he iz. .can score anywhere.

  • Akhsami on February 27, 2014, 19:19 GMT

    The biggest batting passenger in the team is Sohaib Maqsood. Rarely have I seen a player with less cricketing acumen play at this level. He is clueless in the field cannot run between wickets and has no ability to plan an innings. Your strongest batsmen should be 3 and 4, If that truly is Hafeez and Maqsood then God help Pakistan!

  • on February 27, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    @PakPacer, I totally agrre with you. Umar Akmal needs to bat at number 3 (like Kohli) and Hafeez and Afridi should bat at number 7 and 8. Bring Fawad Alam in place of Anwar Ali and should bat at number 6. We need more spinners than fast bowlers on these pitches.

  • on February 27, 2014, 19:13 GMT

    he is very talented but should take responsibility now. he is among seniors now by 90+ games. mostly he throw his hard work away. need to control that.

    i dont think no 3 is for umar akmal. 5-6 is also a good and important position. you need some 1 there who can finish games for youand also in hard times control the collapse &build innings. and you do get good chances here. even in last game he had chance to finish or score ton but due to his own habbit he gave it up. thaf has been the case in past as well.

    however, the batting order is wrong because of hafeez at no3 . he should be either opening IF IN TEAM or playing at 6 or 7. and that will move every 1 up the order 1 place and umar akmal play at 5 or 4 if misbah comes after him. he wont be good at no3. he is doing ok in middle order for past few months.

    regarding hafeez and afridi: they cant be in playing 11 for bowling only. need batting from both.

    for this i think fawad should come in and hafeez to open instead of sharjeel.

  • mars2009 on February 27, 2014, 19:11 GMT

    @mzm149 This team is representing Pakistan not Punjab, Hydearbad is 5th biggest city of Pakistan , Sharjeel is the first from Hyderabad to wear Pakistan green cap. So, give him respect. I wish someone from Baluchistan also get into team.

  • RANA.SHAHZAD on February 27, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    I am glad he is learning Better late then never

  • mzm149 on February 27, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    @DurtyWurk: You are right about demoting Hafeez down the order. But in this tournament we don't have brought any other opener to replace pathetic Sharjeel for the remaining matches. So Hafeez will have to open I guess. But his permanent place should be number 6.

  • rocket123 on February 27, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    The more I see of Umar Akmal, it reminds of Inzy the great. In fact he is arguably has the potential to be better than Inzy the gr8. If Umar is not better than Virat then he is not any lesser than him either. Umar's potential needs care and grooming. Alas Inzy was unable to play long with IK the greatest, and terrible thing is that Umar has no IK to teach and guide him thoroughly. The falir and flamboyance of Umar if harnessed properly in the long run then he is a huge contender with Virat for being a modern gr8. Look at some of his shots that he plays and u know that a very good batsman can not even play them with such ease. Yes he has been making awesome 20s and 30s but he needs continuous games and he will get it how to finish the games. In and out of the team does not help anyone bcuz talent needs consistency and consistent exposure to blossom. So handle him with care he is just 23 and what an impact player he could be for PK.

  • DurtyWurk on February 27, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    @bbmm, you know I half-way agree with that. I don't know if Umar Akmal is the man to be promoted up the order, but Hafeez definitely needs to be demoted down to number 6 or 7. More often than not, he tends to get out with small number of runs and adds pressure to the rest of the batting order.

    And all of you who are planning on telling me about his test centuries against Sri Lanka a few months ago in UAE, stop right there. On the placid pitches of UAE, my nani could have scored atleast 50 runs.

    It might be worth bringing in either Fawad Alam in place of Hafeez or promoting Maqsood to number 3.

    Thoughts?

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    Brilliant article as always Isam

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    Umer akmal is geniune match winner . no doubt. the biggest mistake that Whatmore made in his tenure with Pakistan that he did not use Umer Akmal properly.

    Do not need to change his position now. let him play where he is and let him settle down.

  • Farooq3 on February 27, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    There are 2 batting passengers in this Pakistan team - Hafeez and Afridi! They are in the team only because of their past reputation!

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    this guy jus needs to cool down for a bit.......i have always favored umar akmal the most cos he has da talent of playing it big and according too bbmm he can come in the standards of kohli nd da rest of the pack this guy has the potential nd he is showing it

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    it is high time for pakistan management to use umar akmal effectively. develop a no. 3 player in him and rid him off the extra pressure of keeping the wickets. the mistakes while keeping wickets will prove disastrous to his confidense as a batsman.

  • PakPacer on February 27, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    Agreed Completely BBMM. Umar Akmal and Hafeez need to switch places and for the next match Fawad Alam should replace Anwar Ali. Not b'c Anwar Ali played badly but b'c there is no need for a 3rd seamer on these pitches. Fawad is an adequate 6 bowler, a part timer who can fill in overs and a solid batsman.

  • roook on February 27, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    Blaming umar akmal for srilanka defeat is insane afridi is in team as an all rounder he should bat and finishes else he is a liability

  • bbmm on February 27, 2014, 17:31 GMT

    Now its best time to give Umer akmal no3 spot he may not be exactly kohli but still he can be brilliant in his own standards and play hafeez at 6..

  • bbmm on February 27, 2014, 17:31 GMT

    Now its best time to give Umer akmal no3 spot he may not be exactly kohli but still he can be brilliant in his own standards and play hafeez at 6..

  • roook on February 27, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    Blaming umar akmal for srilanka defeat is insane afridi is in team as an all rounder he should bat and finishes else he is a liability

  • PakPacer on February 27, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    Agreed Completely BBMM. Umar Akmal and Hafeez need to switch places and for the next match Fawad Alam should replace Anwar Ali. Not b'c Anwar Ali played badly but b'c there is no need for a 3rd seamer on these pitches. Fawad is an adequate 6 bowler, a part timer who can fill in overs and a solid batsman.

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    it is high time for pakistan management to use umar akmal effectively. develop a no. 3 player in him and rid him off the extra pressure of keeping the wickets. the mistakes while keeping wickets will prove disastrous to his confidense as a batsman.

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    this guy jus needs to cool down for a bit.......i have always favored umar akmal the most cos he has da talent of playing it big and according too bbmm he can come in the standards of kohli nd da rest of the pack this guy has the potential nd he is showing it

  • Farooq3 on February 27, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    There are 2 batting passengers in this Pakistan team - Hafeez and Afridi! They are in the team only because of their past reputation!

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    Umer akmal is geniune match winner . no doubt. the biggest mistake that Whatmore made in his tenure with Pakistan that he did not use Umer Akmal properly.

    Do not need to change his position now. let him play where he is and let him settle down.

  • on February 27, 2014, 18:22 GMT

    Brilliant article as always Isam

  • DurtyWurk on February 27, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    @bbmm, you know I half-way agree with that. I don't know if Umar Akmal is the man to be promoted up the order, but Hafeez definitely needs to be demoted down to number 6 or 7. More often than not, he tends to get out with small number of runs and adds pressure to the rest of the batting order.

    And all of you who are planning on telling me about his test centuries against Sri Lanka a few months ago in UAE, stop right there. On the placid pitches of UAE, my nani could have scored atleast 50 runs.

    It might be worth bringing in either Fawad Alam in place of Hafeez or promoting Maqsood to number 3.

    Thoughts?

  • rocket123 on February 27, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    The more I see of Umar Akmal, it reminds of Inzy the great. In fact he is arguably has the potential to be better than Inzy the gr8. If Umar is not better than Virat then he is not any lesser than him either. Umar's potential needs care and grooming. Alas Inzy was unable to play long with IK the greatest, and terrible thing is that Umar has no IK to teach and guide him thoroughly. The falir and flamboyance of Umar if harnessed properly in the long run then he is a huge contender with Virat for being a modern gr8. Look at some of his shots that he plays and u know that a very good batsman can not even play them with such ease. Yes he has been making awesome 20s and 30s but he needs continuous games and he will get it how to finish the games. In and out of the team does not help anyone bcuz talent needs consistency and consistent exposure to blossom. So handle him with care he is just 23 and what an impact player he could be for PK.