India v Pakistan, World T20 warm-up, Colombo September 17, 2012

Kamran the batsman impresses, again

How Kamran Akmal must wish he could have had the same poise and confidence in his keeping as he has when he bats

"Do ladkon ko wahaan lagaaiye. Hitein maarni hai (Put two boys there [on the boundary], I want to hit)," Kamran Akmal told a member of the Pakistan support staff during practice on Sunday at the quaint Moors Sports Club ground in Colombo. Boys duly in place at a sort of deep midwicket, Kamran proceeded to swing throwdowns with all his might towards them. Thwack, thwack, thwack … the noise resonated around the ground. Moments earlier, Kamran had batted against Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami and Sohail Tanvir in the nets. And driven and lofted them repeatedly onto the green roof of the pavilion. Thunk, thunk, thunk … the balls crashed onto the metal roof. And yes, before you wonder, Kamran did spend time practising stumping off the spinners.

The following day, it rained hitein again, six of them sailing over the boundary as Kamran's unbeaten 92 off 50 balls carried Pakistan from 91 for 5 to the target of 186 against India with nearly an over to spare. Yet again, Kamran Akmal had changed a game with the bat. Yet again, the feeling in many quarters would have been: 'As if that changes anything.'

It is Kamran's lot that he happens to be a wicketkeeper as well, and to put it mildly, a very mercurial one. It is his lot that his batting shows are reduced to a footnote when his keeping takes centrestage on one of its off days, of which there are plenty. Even today, a largely safe day behind the stumps, he did not even attempt to go for a Virender Sehwag outside edge, looking instead at Mohammad Hafeez at slip as the ball flew between them.

How Kamran must wish he could have had the same poise and confidence in his keeping as he has when he bats. He knows he is in the side as a keeper only because he can create more impact with the bat compared to the replacements Pakistan have tried over the past year-and-half. Even if you hate Kamran the gloveman, even if you revel in dark Kamran-wicketkeeping jokes, you are bound to be moved by his batting skills. The way he drives through cover - a harmony of foot movement, balance and bat swing. The way he latches onto anything remotely short and cuts it violently. The way he bursts out of that semi-crouched stance and swats sixes. Umar Akmal does that too. It could be an Akmal thing.

It is Kamran Akmal's lot that he happens to be a wicketkeeper as well, and to put it mildly, a very mercurial one. It is his lot that his batting shows are reduced to a footnote when his keeping takes centrestage on one of its off days

Pakistan's World Twenty20 squad has been criticised for having four openers in Hafeez, Kamran, Nasir Jamshed and Imran Nazir. On today's evidence, and on the evidence of the recent T20I series against Australia in the UAE, having Kamran bat down at No. 4 may not be a bad ploy at all. One, it ensures there is a lot of experience at that crucial position in the middle order. Two, it means slightly less responsibility for the trigger-happy Umar Akmal. Three, it could help in successfully keeping the likes of Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq for the end overs.

Kamran hasn't batted so low down the order in a T20I since October 2008, but having been out of favour for various reasons after the 2011 World Cup, he seems to be happy to just be back in the side. He is ready to do what the team requires.

An asking-rate of above eleven confronted him today, and he had the last recognised batsman in the first XI, Shoaib Malik, for company. The way he went about dismantling the India bowlers, he might as well have been opening in the first innings of the game. It was clean, unrestrained, pressure-free hitting.

Except that the pressure was there. It may have been a warm-up game, but before that, it was an India-Pakistan match. You want to do anything but lose an India-Pakistan match. Then again, Pakistan lost tamely to India in a warm-up game before the 2009 World Twenty20, and went on to win the tournament.

Warm-up or not, though, the Kamran keeping jokes had long vanished from the media box as the man almost single-handedly defeated India. Now, if the keeping too holds up for a few games, Kamran jokes won't make an appearance for the rest of the tournament. For, you see, there are no Kamran batting jokes. And there probably never will be.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    The fact is we lost and Pak played better. No excuses!

  • Milind on September 19, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    Kamran has been a thorn in the flesh of the Indians for a long time! Whether he performs well against other sides or not, he certainly is at his best against India. Well done Kamran!

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Had India won this warm up match, this comment section would have been full of praise for the Indian team, but since they have lost, 'It was just a warm up game' !!! give credit where its due brothers..

  • Junaid on September 18, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    Kamran was just awesome. He is definitely the best choice for Pakistan in ODIs and 20/20s. Imran Nazir needs to perform in the next match otherwise Hafeez should open with Nasir. Yassar Arafat can come in for Imran as he provides an extra bowling option and can hit a few blows in the last overs.

  • Saad on September 18, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    @IndianCricketRocks: Indian Cricket Team has been so generous after winning the 2011 worldcup that they are giving freebies to all the cricketing nations. For example they give away a test series 4-0 to Captain Clarke so that he can maintain his place in the side as captain. On the same tour they have also helped Ricky Ponting to revive his test career with a double century. Before that Indian cricket team generously gave their number one test ranking to England Cricket team. Same way their bowlers have revived the career of Kamran Akmal. Grow up "Indian Cricket Rocks" why don't you accept that your mediocre medium pace attack is not capable of defending even 180+ score. Get Umesh Yadav and Varun Aron back. They have serious talent and some pace. Srikanth sucks at selection.

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    @cisco420. I just repeated what Afridi's captain Younis Khan said about him. You get the facts! Final: Top score=54 Shahid Afridi. Lowest Economy rate = 5 by Shahid Afridi. Man of the match Shahid Afridi. Semi-Final: Top Score=51 Shahid Afridi. Lowest Economy rate = 4 Shahid Afridi. Most wickets = 2 Shahid Afridi. Man of the Match Shahid Afridi. As for 1992 World Cup, besides Wasim Akram's bowling, Miandad's batting, and Imran's allround, it was also Moin Khan, the second worst wicket-keeper after Kamran Akmal. You see, Kamran Akmal can't even compete with Moin Khan. LOL.

  • joseph on September 18, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    Well it is more of Kamrna's day. I don't know whether he will play with same free mind in the comming matches. Congrats Kamran

  • Dummy4 on September 18, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    hafiz shud bat at num 6 or 7 coz he is destrying da moral of team by batting as an an opener ,my team for da rest ov da worldcup would b 1 imran nazir 2 nasir jamshaid 3 umar akmal 4 kamran akmal 5 shoaib malik 6 Mohammad hafiz 7 shahid afridi 8 abdul razaak 9 sohail tanvir/Mohammad sami 10 umar gul 11 saeed ajmal.....dis will b a perfect team...........umar akmal shud play at num 3 ....................cricinfo plz publish.............

  • TARIQ on September 18, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    No batsman in current Pak team plays better to Fast bowling then Kami,,I can pay money to watch him batting,,people who play good standard of cricket will always regard his batting very high class,,just very unfortunate that he got this keeeping tag with him,,he can play as a batsman in this team. But he is a good choice for ODI's and should play the next world cup in Aus,,as Pak gonna need somebody like him on those wickets. I think Asad should be a good choice against better bowling attacks then Imran Nazir if he keeps failing. Yasir should get in place of Sohail as he is not consistant. Good luck PAKISTAN

  • roy on September 18, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    @ Qazi Hassan , Please gets your facts right, Afridi did not won us the worldcup. You hardly lost any wickets that day , it was a team effort bro.Afridi fans will give him credit for winning the 92 worldcup too.Its insane.

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