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November 27, 2009

New Zealand 2009

Batting pretenders face instant examination

Kamran Abbasi


Umar Akmal's debut century rescued Pakistan from a disastrous position © Getty Images
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A debut Test century is a moment of optimism, a flower about to bloom. Now that Umar Akmal has joined Pakistan’s bouquet of record-making debutants—most of those flowers have wilted quickly—expectations will soar even higher than they were already. Can young Umar be the next batting star of Pakistan cricket?

A decade’s wait underlines the misery that Pakistan fans have had to endure. Many young men have flickered briefly only for their temperament or technique to send them into oblivion. Almost every year a clutch of new prospects raise and shatter our hopes. Nobody has emerged with class enough in recent years to suggest a comparison with the legends of Pakistan’s batting history.

Even debutant century makers have a dismal record. Javed Miandad, Salim Malik, and Younis Khan the only three that have gone on to forge substantial careers. The remainder have failed to turn potential into results. Some have been aided by friendly home wickets or friendly opponents, in Yasir Hameed’s case by both—and he succeeded twice over, a century in each innings of his Test debut. Nonetheless, Pakistan must have expected better progress from these men.

Could there be something different about Umar Akmal? In just about every innings he has bristled with intent and confidence. He has a wide range of attacking strokes yet is capable of defence, comfortable against spin and pace. He has a desire to dominate, an encouraging trait. He has achieved his debut success away from Pakistan like Fawad Alam did in Sri Lanka. Indeed, New Zealand isn’t known as a happy home for Pakistan’s batsmen. Most importantly, he triumphed in adversity, rescuing a near disastrous position of 85 for 5.

These are early days. Umar Akmal will be judged over many years not a few months or even one innings. For once, however, Pakistan fans will dare to believe that a young champion has been discovered. They will also hope that Fawad will seize the opportunity thrust upon him.

Tours of Australia and England will further examine the potential of these young batsmen. But the next day’s play, chasing a difficult final innings total, will be the first genuine insight into the future capabilities of Pakistan’s new batting pretenders.

I’ll be tweeting during the first session of the final day’s play. It should be exciting. You can follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KamranAbbasi

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Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by Haris Mir on (January 8, 2010, 0:24 GMT)

We would have won this match on third day if Kamran Akamal was a true professional Keeper not a make shift one. Chasing any target by any team against Australia would always be a challenge because they play like a fighter unit irrespective to the situation of the game. They are tough opponent who would never lose their nerves and keep on pressing their opposition till the last delivery of the Game. Dropping 4 catches and a run out against Australia is a major crime Kamran you have broken our hearts by not being honest you are just a good stroke-player so be it. I think you should never keep in international level because you have prove repeatedly that you are not a genuine keeper and you tend harm the team by your sloppy keeping over and over again. Yosuf did great over all he drew the test series in NZ land and if the batsman would have kept their nerves we would have won both tests as well as series. Over all team has been playing competitive cricket byt missing killing instinct.

Posted by Haris Mir on (January 7, 2010, 23:06 GMT)

We would have won this match on third day if Kamran Akamal was a true professional Keeper not a make shift one. Chasing any target by any team against Australia would always be a challenge because they play like a fighter unit irrespective to the situation of the game. They are tough opponent who would never lose their nerves and keep on pressing their opposition till the last delivery of the Game. Dropping 4 catches and a run out against Australia is a major crime Kamran you have broken our hearts by not being honest you are just a good stroke-player so be it. I think you should never keep in international level because you have prove repeatedly that you are not a genuine keeper and you tend harm the team by your sloppy keeping over and over again. Yosuf did great over all he drew the test series in NZ land and if the batsman would have kept their nerves we would have won both tests as well as series. Over all team has been playing competitive cricket byt missing killing instinct.

Posted by Muhaamad on (January 6, 2010, 14:03 GMT)

hmmm after this match i m sad grieved weaping bcz team, captain, wicket keeper batsmen led us badly down . After 14 years of long wait we were in a position to beat aussies in sydney.bt coward captaincy poor shot selection by batsmen and bad bad very bad fielding let whole nation down i m grieved i may not watch any more match i better to use my time in other activities rather than watching those people who let whole nation down badly

Posted by ASIF on (December 2, 2009, 5:25 GMT)

Pakistan badly missed afridi in the dunedin test.Pak will keep on loosing unless they recall afridi for the tests.Omar akmal & kamran showed how to handle pressure situations by playing aggressively.Unfortunately the prime reason for ignoring afridi for the tests is his aggressive batting & bowling which actually has won matches for pak in the past & can win many more in the future.The pcb says that afridi has opted out of the tests on his own but the fact of the matter is he was constanly being overlooked for the tests.Even now if the pcb requests afridi to change his mind he will never say no & will be available for the tests.Afridi can be used as a fifth bowler & his aggressive batting scares even the best sides.Just remember his brilliant match winning knocks against india,west indies & england in tests.Also his average of 38 is better than malik,butt,farhat & manzoor.His 5 centuries & 9 fifties with 47 wickets are ample proof that he can do better than the so called specialists.

Posted by Irfan on (December 1, 2009, 16:51 GMT)

Cont’d…Farhat and Salman should be sent back replaced by Nasir Jamshed and Kahlid Lateef, it’s after all a home series. These three should be given a fair run. They could be tried on one two and even third positions in different combinations. Fawad should be in Malik’s spot. Danish should be shown the door, as he is no more the secret weapon as he once was. Stick with Ajmal until he is found out. Another enigma is Fawad’s bowling. Originally Fawad came in as an allrounder (left arm leg spin) and a pretty darn good one. Why his bowling talent is being wasted? He adds variety to the current spread. If Vettori is a success on these pitches Fawad should be tossed the ball (may be the captain didn’t know about his portfolio). Yousuf needs to pick up his captaincy and show a lot more aggression, as it is dull and quite predictable. Pakistan’s bowling is not to be touched as it is doing very well and is capable of getting the opposition out twice even in Australia.

Posted by safi on (December 1, 2009, 14:39 GMT)

from what i have seen in the last 10 to 12 years of pakistani cricket i can say this with a lot of confidence that these new kids by that i mean umar and fawad will exactly be the same as the rest of them. they are playing on the basis of their God given gift and it can only take them so far, eventually they will need the proper technique and temperament and those are not given you have acquire them.

Posted by Karl on (December 1, 2009, 11:39 GMT)

It was embarrassing to watch our opening batsmen in the last test, Farhat and Mansoor with their poor techniques. I would not even pick those 2 for Sunday school taxi driver leaguer never mind an international team.

Fawad he is also very poor in his technique but his got guts so I don’t mind him.as for those doubting Shoaib Malik, don’t know anything about cricket. He is class but out of form and you know what they say ‘form is temporary class is permanent’.

I would open with Salman Butt simply because he gives you a glimpse of Saeed Anwar with his wristy flicks and drives.

Posted by Adnan on (December 1, 2009, 6:12 GMT)

Dear Kamran, can you or someone please write and explain why no-one is calling Afridi back into the test squad. Shahid is so different a player now than he was two years ago when he left test for want of a selextion - surely he merits a place in the test team purely on his bowling even if we set aside (the still) temperamental batting. But then, bring in at a number 7 or 8 at the cost of Farhat and does it not add so much more to the team in terms of bowling, fielding and, I daresay, batting?

Posted by Nadeem Mirza on (November 30, 2009, 22:58 GMT)

@Jack Honsard: Good for you. Congrats!!! Hope that makes you feel little better.

Posted by Davish usman on (November 30, 2009, 12:31 GMT)

Indeed umar akmal is a new star of pak cricket and some of our senior batsmen should learned how to play in pressure situation by seeing umar batting especially shoaib malik

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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