Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 4th day January 6, 2010

Yousuf backs Kamran despite drops

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Kamran Akmal has received solid backing from his captain, despite spilling three chances as Pakistan pushed for a rare Test win against Australia in the second Test at Sydney. Akmal had a horror day three at the SCG, dropping Michael Hussey three times off Danish Kaneria.

Hussey led the Australian resistance, completing a hundred on day four. Akmal also missed a run-out chance earlier in the day. But Yousuf said dropping Akmal was unthinkable, for the batting strength that he provided the order.

"Things like this happen in cricket," Yousuf said. "Kamran is always trying his best. You tell me, how can we afford to give him a rest? He is such a good batsman. He scored well in New Zealand and we need him here."

Until Tuesday Akmal had had a relatively tidy time behind the stumps since 2009, and considerably improved from the dip in form he suffered between 2006 and 2008. He was dropped for the Asia Cup in 2008, replaced by Sarfraz Ahmed, but his batting has always kept the door open for him.

"The best thing to do is to back your players when the going gets tough," Yousuf said. "Look at Ricky Ponting. He is getting support from every quarter even when he is not scoring many runs or on the toss decision."

Despite Akmal's fluffs, Pakistan ended the third day in a strong position with the possibility of chasing a low total for a first Test win in and against Australia since 1995-96. "It only ends when it ends," Yousuf said. "When a team like Australia is involved you can't predict anything. It would be great to finally win a Test against Australia."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo