ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Pakistan v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Pallekele

Umar Akmal uncertain for Zimbabwe clash

Osman Samiuddin in Pallekele

March 12, 2011

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Umar Akmal top scored for Pakistan with 48, Canada v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 3, 2011
A finger injury led Umar Akmal to miss practice © AFP

Pakistan will continue to sweat over the finger injury to Umar Akmal after the batsman, again, missed practice. His chances of playing in Pakistan's game against Zimbabwe on Monday are uncertain.

Umar travelled with the team to Pallekele stadium near Kandy for an optional training session on Saturday but didn't bat, his right index finger still strapped. He did some running and nothing else. The nature of the injury isn't clear and scans and X-rays have revealed no fracture.

"There is some swelling still there so he didn't bat today," Intikhab Alam, the team manager said. "We will see as far as the game on Monday is concerned but it will take a couple of days still."

Umar picked up the injury during fielding practice on Thursday and sat out Friday's session as well though the management was eager to play down the injury then. It came soon after the loss to New Zealand, a game in which his elder brother Kamran played a central role, dropping three chances, prompting calls for his axing.

The Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi subsequently spoke of the possibility of Umar replacing Kamran as wicketkeeper. The injury means that will not happen now and Kamran is almost certain to retain his place, but the timing has led to talk of a repeat of what happened in the aftermath of the Sydney Test last year. Jang, a leading Urdu daily, reported that the pair had been spoken to by the management and told in no uncertain terms that a repeat of Sydney would not be tolerated.

Umar is the side's second leading scorer in the tournament, with 167 runs in four games at nearly 42. He has only a solitary fifty though has got starts in a couple of other games. If he does sit out - and against a relatively weaker side Pakistan may be tempted to rest him - Asad Shafiq will come in. Shafiq had a long batting session in practice and will slot into the middle order.

Umar's absence may also mean another chance for Ahmed Shehzad, who, had all players been fit, would probably have been dropped after a run of poor scores. But Pakistan are keen to stick with eight batsmen so he may be retained. There is talk of resting Shoaib Akhtar and bringing in Wahab Riaz, something Pakistan tried against Canada, or even playing with three spinners.

Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib opted not to train today.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.
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