Umar Akmal lights up Pakistan batting
Kent 2 for 0 trail Pakistanis 360 ( Umar Akmal 153, Lawson 4-93) by 358 runs with 10 wickets remaining
It was more gloom and doom than 'Boom Boom' for star one-day batsman Shahid Afridi after Pakistan's enigmatic captain suffered a six-ball duck on the opening day of their second tour game against Kent in Canterbury.
Instead of watching Afridi dispatch the ball to all parts, Kent and Pakistan supporters had to contend themselves with a workmanlike 153 from Umar Akmal as Pakistan recovered from a sticky start of 53 for 3 to rack up 360 all out in temperatures more akin to Gujranwala than the Garden of England.
Having elected to rest the majority of their first choice side for this first-class fixture, Kent gave a county debut to former Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex leg-spinner Mark Lawson and welcomed back seamers Dewald Nel and Robbie Joseph after long-term injuries. The hosts also included their former Academy all-rounders Matt Coles and Alex Blake in a side led by former Pakistan allrounder Azhar Mahmood.
Though understandably batting first in sublime conditions and against a makeshift county attack, Pakistan made a miserable start by losing four wickets for 112 in the opening session of this three-day friendly. Looking ill at ease against a seaming ball, the tourists lost their first three batsmen all to leg-before decisions. Umar Amin (2) played horribly across the line of a Coles off-cutter then Fawad Alam (20) went in the same manner despite the hint of an inside edge against Nel, who was bowling his first over for the county first team since April.
Then, in the next over Mahmood snared Salman Butt (26) to one that darted back in to the left-hander hitting him flush in front and leaden footed at the crease. In the last over before lunch Shoaib Malik (27) was enticed into a rash, wide drive against Lawson to meekly give up his wicket to a comfortable catch at backward point.
After lunch the sprightly Blake, bowling again after a host of back problems, took two wickets in consecutive overs, including the prized scalp of Afridi. The 21-year-old had Kamran Akmal (28) spectacularly caught at gully, one-handed by Coles diving away to his right off an edged drive then, without addition to the score, Afridi disappointed his local following once more.
In his four one-day starts when playing for Kent back in 2004 Afridi averaged a dismal 13 and faced only 24 deliveries, this time around he lasted barely seven minutes before an impulsive drive over cover sliced off an open face to deep backward point, where Nel took a good catch on the run.
While Afridi sloped off to spend half-an-hour in the St Lawrence practice nets, so Pakistan's seventh-wicket partners Umar Akmal and Abdul Rashid set about posting a sensible partnership worth 111 in 30.1 overs. Akmal moved to a 73-ball half-century with a six over mid-wicket against Lawson, but generally played well within himself until he had reached three figures. At the other end, Abdul Rehman was content to play second fiddle, batting a shade over two hours for his 30 runs and two boundaries.
His stay came to an end after the right-hander over-balanced when attempting a leg-glance against James Goodman only to be stumped by a good piece of work by Kent's understudy keeper Paul Dixey, who was deputising for the resting Geraint Jones.
Once safely to his 150-ball century with 15 fours and a six, the diminutive Umar Akmal opened up his locker of shots with four more sixes, three of which came from lofted-straight drives against debutant Lawson. Lawson finally got his revenge and brought an end to the right-hander's 268-minute stay to another Dixey stumping, this time after Akmal had advanced down the pitch only to miss with a wild swish to one he had hoped to deposit somewhere over the ropes at long-on.
Lawson, assisted by three stumpings by Dixey, duly ran through the tail to finish with 4 for 93 leaving Kent to survive the final over of the day and post two without loss by the close. Night watchman Coles scored their only runs.