Kamran Akmal under pressure after miserable mistakes
Salman Butt has admitted that Kamran Akmal is under pressure after the mistakes committed by Pakistan's wicketkeeper on the first day at Trent Bridge played a crucial role in the visitors finding themselves in a difficult position in the first Test.
"The biggest difference [between the sides] was taking the chances. Had we grabbed ours this match would've been even," Butt said after the second day's play.
It was a forgettable Thursday for Kamran. In the fifth over of the morning Andrew Strauss edged a late outswinger from Mohammad Aamer but Kamran reacted slowly before spilling an easy catch. Strauss was on 15 then and England 22 for no loss. When England's captain eventually departed on 45, the hosts were 93 for 2.
Through the day Kamran continued to leak byes and at times even fumbled straightforward takes. In the second session he failed to be pro-active, choosing not to stand up a yard or two closer against Mohammad Aamer, which would have allowed him to cleanly catch Eoin Morgan when the left-hander had made just five. It proved to be the worst mistake of the match. Then when Paul Collingwood charged Danish Kaneria late in the afternoon, on 48, Kamran failed to collect the ball and missed the stumping chance embarrassingly.
Kamran's glovework has been a raging debate for the last few years and the Sydney debacle, when he fluffed repeated opportunities to get rid of Michael Hussey in one Kaneria over, still rankles in Pakistani minds. He was duly dropped for the following Test in Hobart. But the newcomer Sarfraz Ahmed, his replacement, was used as a pawn by the one-eyed Pakistan administrators, who initially fined him heavily and put him on a six-month probation, before overturning their original decision, halving his fine and restoring Kamran back to the side.
During the recent Australia series Kamran appeared to have improved both his footwork and glovework after fruitful discussions with former Australia keeper Ian Healy and Kent coach Paul Farbrace, who kept wicket for Middlesex. But at Trent Bridge he has once again regressed.
Butt said he could only stand by his deputy and hopes Kamran will vindicate him and the team management. "Everybody has tried. The coaches, myself and the other players have spoken to him. We have backed him. Because the game is on that is the only way and best way to give him the confidence. Being the most senior guy in the team he himself also feels the responsibility so I hope he is courageous enough to make a comeback and make people forget what he has done."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo