ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

World Cup 2011

Hafeez, Akmal ease opening conundrum

Osman Samiuddin

March 25, 2011

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez put together an unbeaten 113-run stand, West Indies v Pakistan, 1st quarter-final, World Cup 2011, March 23, 2011
With their century stand in Pakistan's win over West Indies in the World Cup quarter-final, Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal have provided their team with the much needed stability at the top of the order © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Kamran Akmal | Mohammad Hafeez
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Pakistan

The one piece in the jigsaw Pakistan have been unable to fit during the World Cup has been, to no great surprise, the opening partnership. For five matches in the group stages, with commendable patience, they stuck with Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez despite the pair putting on a highest of 28.

Eventually they chose to drop Shehzad for the game against Australia; Hafeez's skills as an offspinner enough to retain him. The change meant a reuniting of one of Pakistan's more successful ODI opening pairs in recent years, of Hafeez and Kamran Akmal. Almost immediately there was a return; the pair putting on an unbroken 113 against the West Indies in the quarter-final in Dhaka in the ten-wicket win.

That was their second century stand in the ten ODIs in which they have opened together, to go with four fifty starts and a healthy average overall of 62.55. Though they had opened twice before, in 2006-07, it was last summer in the ODI series against England that they had an extended and successful run, putting together stands of 62, 122, 8, 62 and 63 in the series.

But since then, in the continuing fall-out of the spot-fixing scandal, the pairing has been disrupted again, allowing Shahzaib Hasan, Imran Farhat and Shehzad to open with Hafeez. "There was a problem in opening; the performance that was expected wasn't happening, like we had in England with Kamran," Hafeez told ESPNcricinfo. "In Abu Dhabi I had different guys like Shahzaib, Imran Farhat opening with me; in New Zealand Shehzad was there. So it was difficult to adjust to everyone."

But Hafeez has always felt most comfortable with Akmal, with whom the contrast in intent works well. "I have opened before with Kamran and obviously, when you play together, you understand each other's game," Hafeez said.

"When Kamran plays with me, I have great confidence because I know he attacks the bowlers. He plays beautiful shots and the opposition gets under pressure. I actually find batting easier because I know he is attacking the bowlers at the other end. That gives me confidence in playing my own shots."

The domestic and international careers of both have overlapped to a large extent and they know each other well off the field as well, spending time together in Lahore. Kamran's younger brothers Adnan and Umar also play with Hafeez for Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) on the domestic circuit in Pakistan.

"Hafeez has been doing so well since the England series with ball and bat," Akmal told ESPNcricinfo. "He brings so much confidence to the team. I love batting with him because we have a good understanding. We communicate with each other all the time at the wicket, talking about the wicket, the bowler, what we need to keep doing. If one of us is struggling a little, the other is always there to help him out. I had that understanding with Salman Butt as well."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 24 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 11:56 GMT)

Opening is perfect (considering the fact we dont have any options left), just get Akhtar in for Riaz and Pakistan will be all set to win the Semi.

Posted by Mujahid on (March 27, 2011, 9:07 GMT)

I have always thought that Afridi should have opened the innings (Strictly in sub Continent Only) from the beginning but since he didn't no other options avail able with Shehzad out of form. no question of Shoaib since no chance of experiment and left arm seamer gives more variety. Razzaq I feel is still under utilized. Rest rests with 100 % effort of players and prayers to Allah.

Posted by Magic on (March 27, 2011, 8:54 GMT)

Akhtar or Ajmal for Abdur rehman ! We have already got hafeez and afridi to spin the ball. We need an extra bat though ! And ofcourse, we gotta bat first !

Posted by kamran on (March 27, 2011, 7:13 GMT)

Had Ahmed Shahzad come good for Pakistan in this WC we have hadthe wonderful chance but never the less he is a one special thing for future Pakistani selector must develope him--- Ahmed Asad Akmal Azhar are things for future...............................

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 27, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

I also agree Akthar for Riaz. He is a big player and big players are made for big games and Akthar had been are most successful bowler against India.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 27, 2011, 5:02 GMT)

Insha-allah... Hope the beat team with mental strength and wisdom will sure win this semi-final. Indian batting Vs Pakistan bowling. 50-50

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 27, 2011, 2:39 GMT)

I hope the success of this pair will continue... in semi final

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 19:56 GMT)

It will be the game of nerves, Any player out of 22 can be the difference, both teams are full of talent, Pakistan had strong bowling attack on the other hand India with very deep and strong bowling line up

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 26, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

I agree! Akhtar for Riaz and we will win! INSHAALLAH!!

Posted by Faizan on (March 26, 2011, 5:19 GMT)

Many people believe that for Kamran Akmal to keep well he needs to bat well. I think it's the other way around. He should fully focus on his keeping because he's got natural talent with the bat and he's in the side FIRST for his keeping. If he keeps well he will automatically focus when he bats because he will have a clear mind. Hafeez needs to be backed not only for this championship but also for the future. Give Shoaib Akhtar another go against India. I bet, he is the most eager man to play against India and specially to bowl against the likes of Tendulkar. One more wicket taking yorker in Tendulkar's toes, one more Boom Boom century, one more win against India, one more WORLD CUP and one more moment of happiness for the Pakistani nation. I and all the Pakistani team supporters hope that Pakistan wins the semi-final and the final.

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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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