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
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"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

  • on September 19, 2012, 5:21 GMT

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

  • m_ilind 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!

  • 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..

  • siddiqi 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.Anwar 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.

  • 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.

  • joseyesu 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

  • 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.............

  • malepas 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

  • cisco420 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.

  • on September 19, 2012, 5:21 GMT

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

  • m_ilind 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!

  • 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..

  • siddiqi 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.Anwar 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.

  • 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.

  • joseyesu 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

  • 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.............

  • malepas 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

  • cisco420 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.

  • MunafAhmed811 on September 18, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Ok Guys. I was wrong. Kamran Akmal smacked Indians out of Park and won the crucial warm up game which Indians played seriously and put in their complete effort.The victory will remain etched in Indian hearts and hurt them forever. Happy all you guys now. No pressure of elimination from tournament is highest pressure a team can have and Pakistan handled that pressure perfectly to come out champions in this crucial all important match. Even the bowlers thrived and managed India to restrict to only 185. That was serious bowling from Pakistanis. Dav whatmore was also so excited about the victory that he hailed the performance as best ever.

  • on September 18, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    @Parth Patel. Afridi won Pakistan the only T20 world cup. Can you say that about Akmal. Oh wait! Yes he won us this warm up match! Can you say Tendulker won India any world cup? Oh yes the last one. How many catches were dropped? 5, but not all of them were dropped by Kamran.

  • on September 18, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    @Adnan Syed. It is a fact that Pakistan lost ODI world cup and many more series due to Kamran. Why would India not want him in? It was a warm up match, and if a few full tosses can keep him in, why not?

  • Syed_imran_abbas on September 18, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    Well played kami. Imran Nazir should get droped now. Pakistan should go with combination: (1) Hafeez (2) Nasir Jamshed (3) Kamran Akmal (4) Asad Shafeeq (5) Shoiab malik (6) Umer Akmal (7) Afridi (8) Razzaq (9) Sohail Tanvir (10) Gul (11) Ajmal.

  • CricketMaan on September 18, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    I wish India tried Dinda in that game, aferall that kid got a 4.-for in the T20 against Lanka. I know there are both Balaji haters and supporters, but should have rested Zak and tried Dinda. That could have brought the best of both.

  • PrasPunter on September 18, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    Well played Pakistan !! Happy to see them winning this one. Hope they go all the way and win the Cup ( assuming that Aus doesnt win ). Pak has always been my second favorite and if Aus loses out, I will join my brothers from Pak to root for them !! Go Aus !! Go Pak !!

  • KarachiKid on September 18, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    Kamran Akmal has to replecate this kind of display at 10 time in next 15 outcomes to be counted as a valuable players given his pathetic displays, both with bat and behind stumps in last 4 years.

  • SpartaArmy on September 18, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    Well, one has to applaud Kamran for the kind of batting display he showcased yesterday. Coming to Indian bowling, they can be rated as one of the weakest bowling units in this tournament; way below BD, IRE and even AFGH. It is strange that for a country with such batting talent, bowlers are always mediocre at best. How on the planet can players like Chawla's, Dinda's, VKumar's, Balaji's end up in one of the top tier international teams????

  • jimbond on September 18, 2012, 6:59 GMT

    Kamran has scored in a practice match (but against India) and the team management is going to reward him with a place in the side for the next one year for this. But yes, 20/20 is the only format where he cant do much damage with the gloves. If Pakistan is still interested in winning against better teams than India, they should get rid of Kamran and Malik fast. Two liabilities who perform in inconsequential games. Or if Kamran is fancied as a bat, ensure that a specialist wicketkeeper plays other than Kamran (with the kind of allrounders that pak has, it can very easily play a specialist wicketkeeper)

  • on September 18, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    " No wonder Indians were feeding him full tosses and short of length deliveries to ensure he stays in side." Oh please, do not play down the game if India lost it. There is nothing in it when India Pak clash on a cricketing field. What about Imran Nazir's catch and Raina's chest butt? Was that something made up or orchestrated? If Indians were planning to let the weaker players perform in order to get selected, why was Sami belted to all corners of the park, and why wasn't Imran Nazir's catch floored? And with Kamran being the only keeper in the squad, will he be dropped on the basis of a batting failure? Stupid to say the least. Taking credit away from even the Indian performers like Kohli who batted their heart out for their team!

  • codegreen on September 18, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    his coverdrives and leg side pulls are just wow to watch.....great stylish player......

  • khurramsch on September 18, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    he is in good form in all 4 t20 so far on his return. Problem for pak all his replacements were more poor in batting than a bowler. so have to go with kamran even you hate it or like it. shoiab finally back & did something after many games. problem now imran nazir so far his return is not looking good & may well drop him at 1 stage for asad.afridi needs to rethink his batting approach. razak hasnt got much oputunity but his batting is a question mark also. over its an open tounment with these PLAYGROUND boundries less than 60m. any1 can win on day

  • on September 18, 2012, 6:27 GMT

    SLPL has been a real gift to Kamran Akmal. All the best

  • arsy81 on September 18, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    HAHAAHAHA. My dear indian friends don'nt get jealous. The truth is the current indian bowling line up is weakest in the cricketing world so they were not actually feeding full tosses to akmal infact they cant bowl to the batsman who is agressive and beligerant in nature. Secondly if they are doing it on purpose so that THEY THINK AKMAL IS A WEAK LINK IN PAKISTAN LINE UP THEN I THINK THEY HAVE ALREADY LOST THE TOURNAMENT AS THEY DON'T HAVE GUTS TO FACE STRONG OPPOSITIONS. WHAT A PITY TO A CHAMPION TEAM...........

  • on September 18, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    This is the advantage of having long batting order and having more number of all-rounders in the team. Despite losing 5 quick wickets Pakistan had Shoaib Malik at number 7. I am really pleased to see Malik performing well after a very long time. Pakistan needs to improve the bowling department. You cant rely on one or two bowlers only. Gull, Sohail and Afridi must perform well if Pakistan wants to play final of T20. On the other hand, India has one of the best batting orders. Gambhir, Sehwag, Raina, Kohli, Dhoni and Yuvraj, they all are awesome batsmen. India was let down by their bowling and it is their weakest link. At the end.. Thumbs Up team Pakistan.... And oh by the way.. nice article :)

  • Mr_Force on September 18, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    @TeamBlueRocks,,,,,, dhoni/Zaheer/pathan faces were telling different story, just in case if you didnt see the match :)

  • on September 18, 2012, 5:39 GMT

    Lets speak for good cricket. Every players has a bad day and a good day. Kamran made it look easier with the form he is carrying. When people like to make and share jokes for Kamran then they should have courage and courtesy to applaud his batting. At the end of the day it is cricket which is being appreciated.

  • Jamshed78 on September 18, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Hello Every one i am a Pakistani i have played cricket Division level, i really don't like when people come up and start commenting about anyboy very badly, it is a big tournament T20 World cup, let's back our team instead of this player is not good this player is not good, back them to win the world cup and INSHLLAH like all the world cups i send msg just before one day of starting a world cup, BEST OF LUCK PAKISTAN we all are with you ( as for as i am concern) my best XI is Imran, Hafeez, Nasir, Kamran, Malik (should come 5), Afridi, Umar, Razzak, Tanveer, Gul, Ajmal . . . if imran keep getting out quick they they put Nasir and hafeez opener no 3 kamran no 4 asad, BOOM BOOM Pakistan

  • on September 18, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    @TeamBlueRocks.....If it was that pressure free game, then why not indians did the same, they must have scored 250 then. And you mean indians bowlers were interested or they did not take it serioulsy. You indians can't admire Team Green performance. Comeeeee on

  • cooljack_143 on September 18, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    Pak CANNOT win with this ABYSMAL FIELDING..Minnows are fielding far better than they are.Warmup is warm up this is how you test your bench strength,Yuvi looks of color in running between wickets, he almost ran out Virat,,India cant risk him in crucial matches..watch out for Aus..they are banging the doors for this WC 2012.

  • DataQue on September 18, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    Bottom line: Kamran sent the entire Indian team to the cleaners!! Take that!

  • on September 18, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    I think he drank the V8 before he bulldozed every bowler, a chance less innings, a devoted one.

  • on September 18, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Afridi jokes are funny!! "oh my, will he last Another ball?, oh no he doesn't, and he is out! "

  • badmaash on September 18, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Kamran Akmal has lost more matches for Pakistan through his keeping than any other player. It is a mistake to let him back into the team. Indian bowlers probably got thumped wilfully in this warm-up game, so that Pakistan continue to play Kamran Akmal in the tournament. He will help them out when it really matters.

  • on September 18, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    Correct. He looked great.

  • Schaki on September 17, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Good one,Mr.Purohit.....

  • wc1992 on September 17, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    beautiful ............... warmup game ya right ..........i dont care about the T20 WC now they can loose the all the matches i am happy ......i knew when raina took imran nazir catch and then did this arrogant chest hi5 .......thanks to All might Allah

  • OhPakistan on September 17, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Kamran Akmal (& Shoaib Malik) deserves all the accolades for playing a cracking inning under pressure. Nothing to get excited about these "warm matches" as Pakistan batting remains brittle/unpredictable. For sure, the Indian bowling display gives its think-tanks 'a lot to think about' (looked ordinary). Pakistan bowling must also show improved form against England before group matches.

  • on September 17, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    what a knock.... I have him for my Fantasy Cricket so hoping to win that.... Pak has chance if they Put Akmal number4, shoaib number5 then umar, then razzaq and then boom boom (for catches)... Good Luck Pakistan

  • Hassanmir on September 17, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    If you have been following the Pakistan's recent matches, Kamran looks much improved with the gloves too. The catch you mentioned was for the first slip but since Kamran was the other person involved, people are quick to put a blame on him. Hafiz accounted for Nasir Jamshaid's runout too. This innings was probably one of the best you could see . Kohli is currently the best in the world and to better his efforts in the match is an amazing achievement . He is MUCh improved with the gloves, still needs some more work but there should be NO DOUBT that he Pakistan's best choice !!!!

  • MunafAhmed811 on September 17, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    It was clean, unrestrained, pressure-free hitting. Your this line says it all. There was NO pressure and he thrives in those conditions. If this had been a knockout match , he would have scored 1 four and then given a catch at point, a weakness known to all. No wonder Indians were feeding him full tosses and short of length deliveries to ensure he stays in side.

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  • MunafAhmed811 on September 17, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    It was clean, unrestrained, pressure-free hitting. Your this line says it all. There was NO pressure and he thrives in those conditions. If this had been a knockout match , he would have scored 1 four and then given a catch at point, a weakness known to all. No wonder Indians were feeding him full tosses and short of length deliveries to ensure he stays in side.

  • Hassanmir on September 17, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    If you have been following the Pakistan's recent matches, Kamran looks much improved with the gloves too. The catch you mentioned was for the first slip but since Kamran was the other person involved, people are quick to put a blame on him. Hafiz accounted for Nasir Jamshaid's runout too. This innings was probably one of the best you could see . Kohli is currently the best in the world and to better his efforts in the match is an amazing achievement . He is MUCh improved with the gloves, still needs some more work but there should be NO DOUBT that he Pakistan's best choice !!!!

  • on September 17, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    what a knock.... I have him for my Fantasy Cricket so hoping to win that.... Pak has chance if they Put Akmal number4, shoaib number5 then umar, then razzaq and then boom boom (for catches)... Good Luck Pakistan

  • OhPakistan on September 17, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Kamran Akmal (& Shoaib Malik) deserves all the accolades for playing a cracking inning under pressure. Nothing to get excited about these "warm matches" as Pakistan batting remains brittle/unpredictable. For sure, the Indian bowling display gives its think-tanks 'a lot to think about' (looked ordinary). Pakistan bowling must also show improved form against England before group matches.

  • wc1992 on September 17, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    beautiful ............... warmup game ya right ..........i dont care about the T20 WC now they can loose the all the matches i am happy ......i knew when raina took imran nazir catch and then did this arrogant chest hi5 .......thanks to All might Allah

  • Schaki on September 17, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Good one,Mr.Purohit.....

  • on September 18, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    Correct. He looked great.

  • badmaash on September 18, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Kamran Akmal has lost more matches for Pakistan through his keeping than any other player. It is a mistake to let him back into the team. Indian bowlers probably got thumped wilfully in this warm-up game, so that Pakistan continue to play Kamran Akmal in the tournament. He will help them out when it really matters.

  • on September 18, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Afridi jokes are funny!! "oh my, will he last Another ball?, oh no he doesn't, and he is out! "

  • on September 18, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    I think he drank the V8 before he bulldozed every bowler, a chance less innings, a devoted one.