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

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

  • romi 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.

  • Muhammad 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.

  • murali 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

  • muddassir 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.

  • Dummy4 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

  • sam 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.

  • Madhu 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.

  • shahid 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.

  • shahid 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.