Pakistan rush Sarfraz Ahmed to Australia
Kamran Akmal's poor showing behind the stumps for Pakistan during the second Test in Sydney has prompted the selectors to rush promising wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed to Australia ahead of the third Test in Hobart. A strongly-worded release from the PCB said Sarfraz "will be participating in third Test" although it didn't say whether Akmal, who is the team's vice-captain, would play as a specialist batsman or not.
"[The] Pakistan Cricket Board shows its utmost concern over the poor performance of Pakistan Cricket Team in second Test match played in Sydney," the PCB release said. "Chairman Selection Committee was invited today for a meeting with Chairman of PCB to evaluate the situation. As an urgent action, it was agreed to send wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed to Australia before the 3rd Test to reinforce the wicketkeeping department. The tour selection committee has been informed accordingly. An overall review of the performance of the team shall be carried out by the board after completion of the Australian Tour."
Akmal had a torrid time behind the stumps on day three of the second Test, dropping Michael Hussey three times off Danish Kaneria and missing a run-out chance earlier in the day. He also dropped Peter Siddle off Mohammad Sami on the fourth morning. Hussey went on to score an unbeaten 134 and helped stretched Australia's lead from 80 - at the end of the third day - to 175. Pakistan were the favourites to win on the fourth day but collapsed to 139 and lost the match, by 36 runs, and the series.
"The call up has come as a pleasant surprise and if I get a chance to play I will do my best for my country", PTI quoted Sarfraz as saying before flying out of Karachi.
Sarfraz had toured New Zealand recently as an understudy to Akmal but was sent back home before the team headed to Australia, because the selectors wanted to trim the squad. Sarfraz, who has played eight ODIs for Pakistan, had replaced Akmal for the 2008 Asia Cup. Akmal has since been the first choice wicketkeeper and was even publicly backed by his captain Mohammad Yousuf during the Sydney Test because of his abilities as a batsman.