Pakistan v England 2011-12

Akmal the answer for Pakistan

After long periods of change behind the stumps, Adnan Akmal's solid work could provide Pakistan with a settled wicketkeeper

George Dobell in Dubai

January 23, 2012

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Adnan Akmal reverse sweeps on his way to 61, Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Dubai, 3rd Day, January, 19, 2012
Adnan Akmal's performance in the first Test was a solid contribution towards Pakistan's victory © AFP

Pakistan had several heroes in the first Test of their series against England in Dubai. While Saeed Ajmal understandably dominated the headlines with his 10-wicket haul, the performances of Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Gul, Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umar and Abdur Rehman were also highly impressive. It was, most of all, a fine team effort.

But perhaps most pleasing of all was the contribution of Adnan Akmal. The 26-year-old is not the finished article. His keeping, though capable, lacks the consistency of the very best. A first-class batting average of 23.63 suggests that expectations should be tempered. Yet, most encouragingly, he showed a welcome ability to flourish under pressure in Dubai.

It would be stretching a point to state that the game was in the balance when Akmal came to the crease. Pakistan were, after all, 231 for five, and already had a lead of 39. By dismissing England for just 192 on the first day, Pakistan took a hold on the game that they were never to relinquish.

If England were to strike back it was going to be then. And when Pakistan lost three wickets for six runs at the end of the second day and start of the third, it appeared England might limit the lead to little more than 100.

Akmal ensured Pakistan consolidated their position. He drove the seamers beautifully, stole the strike masterfully and swept, or reverse swept, the spin of Graeme Swann to distraction. Akmal recorded the highest score of his 11-match Test career and drove another nail into England's coffin. It was a highly assured innings.

It also suggested Pakistan might, at last, have settled on a keeper around which they could plan for the next few years. They have tried a few - Mohammad Salman, Zulqarnain Haider, Kamran Akmal and, in limited-overs matches, Umar Akmal - but all have, for one reason or another, been found wanting. Adnan Akmal, the middle brother of Kamran and Umar, might well have the best combination of glovework and batting ability of the lot of them.

"Kamran always guided me. He has played more cricket than me. He would warn me who is dangerous for him and he always told me to keep working hard. I've benefited from that hard work." Adnan Akmal

It has not been a smooth path for Adnan Akmal. First, the presence of his brother Kamran blocked his route into the international team. Then, after failing to contribute enough with the bat, he was dropped following Pakistan's tour of New Zealand despite talking six catches in an innings in the previous Test in Wellington.

He now admits he has had to work hard to reach the standards required at international level and shares the problem England's batsmen have had reading the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.

"I had some trouble keeping to Ajmal's doosra," Akmal said after training on Monday. "So I worked with Ijaz Ahmed and the drills have helped me a lot.

"Keeping to Ajmal is different and difficult. I watch his hand and I've practised a lot. Only after that was I able to keep better to his bowling. We don't exchange signals. If you do that it's no use being a keeper.

Akmal did admit he had seen no sign of the much-vaunted "teesra" that Ajmal had claimed he would unleash in the first Test. "I never felt any difference," Akmal said. "They were the normal deliveries I have been keeping in the last ten matches. He was bowling in the same manner. It may be different for the batsmen but I did not feel any difference."

Akmal was at a loss to explain England's poor batting. "They are better batsmen than us," he said. "I don't know what happened, really. We bowled very well - Ajmal was outstanding."

He was also quick to credit his brother, Kamran, for his advice and support. "It was always my wish to play for Pakistan," Adnan said. "I've been playing first-class cricket for about ten years and I just wanted to perform for Pakistan like I did in the first-class game.

"I learned a lot from my brothers. We have helped each other. When Kamran was playing he used to ask me for advice and now I ask him. We support each other. Kamran always guided me. He has played more cricket than me. He would warn me who is dangerous for him and he always told me to keep working hard. I've benefited from that hard work."

Meanwhile seamer Mohammad Talha has been ruled out of the rest of the series with a back injury. Pakistan will not send for a replacement. While they selected three seamers the last time they played a Test in Abu Dhabi, they are likely to stick with the two spinner policy that served them so well in Dubai. But they are considering bringing in Junaid Khan, who claimed five for 38 against Sri Lanka here in October, in place of Aizaz Cheema and Umar Akmal in place of Asad Shafiq.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ...shahid on (January 24, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

I am totally bemused by teh Topic, Akmal is no answer yet, I don't know if you have seen the match on the number of catches he dropped and also with out the edge he dropped so many balls behind the stumps. we have to wait more to confirm if he is any better than rest of the pack, i would recommend giving the job to the other Akmal (Umar) and he can become solid wicket keeper in one day and 20-20

Posted by cricket_pak419 on (January 24, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

I agree Adnan may be the new wicket keeper for Pakistan. If Sarfraz doesn't show any more improvement with the bat he should be dropped. Then adnan can come in. Misbah should start thinking about taking the captain hat off.. My perfect moment would be after the twenty20 world cup. He should retire from limited formats of the game, but still play test cricket, but it all matters about his fitness. Good luck Pakistan!

Posted by Nasir_Mahmood_Malik on (January 24, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

What wrong have Aizaz Cheema and Asad Shafiq done. Putting them on bench will shatter their confidence. My advice would be to keep going until there ready is need to change i.e. due to injury or really bad performance.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

only the specialist keeper shud be playing whether he has a good batting avg or not

Posted by wrenx on (January 24, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

@KashifMuneer I agree that Asad Shafiq shows promise, but his technique against spin and short bowling still shows a lot to be desired. Umar Akmal is a more complete player in this sense - he may chase the odd ball he ought to leave, but he's not fazed by quality spin or hostile short bowling.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

Very good allround player better than Kamran akmal

Posted by FatBoysCanBat on (January 24, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

@badmaash: I wouldn't say that Umar has had more than his fair share of opportunities. He has only played 16 Tests [look at the number guys like Farhat and Faisal Iqbal got]. A guy who never got a fair crack was Fawad Alam. He made a brilliant 168no on debut batting out of position and has only had two matches since - and he performed well in ODI's whenever he got a chance yet the selectors continue to overlook him.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

He is much better when compaired to other pakistani wk Sarfaraz and mohammed salman.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

A vibrant 50 or 100 every couple of innings does not make up for a simple dropped catch behind the stumps. Keep Adnan, forget about Kamran, he's had his run.

Posted by umairtulla on (January 24, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

he is fantastic i like him sooooooooo much and plzzzzz keep that work we need it .

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

Even if all he does is keep Kamran out of the team he'll have done a fine service to Pakistan cricket.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

I think Pakistan's biggist issue is finding someone that can actually catch the ball. While it's usually expected that the keeper can bat, it's catches that win matches and all that.

As for Kamaran, I wouldn't let him keep wicket in a backyard cricket match! Good luck to Adnan.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

Akmal the "question" for Pakistan, hope cricinfo will not need publish article with this title.

Posted by badmaash on (January 24, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

They must not bring in Umar Akmal - he has had more than his fair share of opportunities. Stick with Asad Shafiq for at least a few more matches.

Posted by WildAmigo on (January 24, 2012, 5:15 GMT)

I believe that Zulqarnain is the better keeper than Akmals in Test he has play very well in England. But in ODIs and T20s Umar or Shafiq should be playing as Keeper better than Kamran, Sarfraz or Adnan. So by doing this a place should be given to Hammad Azam as permanent Allrounder in Team.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 5:11 GMT)

I would still want Kamran Akmal to be in instead of his brother Adnan Akmal, Kamran akmal could play some vibrant innings which i dont think adnan akmal will be able to do. Umar Akmal should never be dropped as he is a revelation and one batsman who could instill fear in any good bowler and could inflict damage in their confidence.

Pakistan should also bring in wahab riaz instead of Aijaz Cheema and i failed to fathom the reason and rationality behind dropping Wahab Riaz who was the star of the show in the world cup 2011. At last Mr.Misbah should leave way to some youngster who could uplift the spirit of the game, Mr.Misbah innings is nothing but a lullaby and could make anyone sleep even if he is suffering from insomnia.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

Adnan Akmal Footwork is too nice when he is keeping.

Posted by dmqi on (January 24, 2012, 1:11 GMT)

oops Dobell, ADNAN, THE ANSWER OF PAKISTN, NOT AKMAL. Akmal the master of drop catches and loss of matches. Good article Dobell.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 23:34 GMT)

I think the problem with Kamran Akmal was not his glovework or his techinique, just mental ... some may questions his friends with names Majeeds, Butts, and Mohammads ... but I won't go there.

Posted by KashifMuneer on (January 23, 2012, 22:56 GMT)

@spence1324 - Whether someone else moans about the article or not, you always seem to be the first one criticizing the Pakistani team and fans. You've only lost 1 match? Great article George, keep up the good work. I hope Adnan goes from strength to strength. I'm sure Asad Shafiq will score runs as well so I don't think it makes a huge difference if we have Umar Akmal or Asad Shafiq.

Posted by thePakistanian on (January 23, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

Adnan is surely improving during SL, Bangladesh & now England series!! But we need to give him consistant chances & atleast 25 tests before judging him as Keeper & Batsmen! He surely is a good keeper, improving & batting needs to have 35+ of average after 20-25 tests! So hopefully he can do it! Atleast he has lots of time!!

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

the link to the match in abu dhabi takes u to a match in new zealand instead..

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

can someone correct the title please and do a proof reading , may be writer was too much carried away to PRAISE ALOT "Akmal brothers" that he failed to focus on spelling.

Overall it was gud one, someone need to step up after Kamran Akmal , and I dont mind if its his brother

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 21:45 GMT)

its too early to say anything about him, Kamran was promising as well when he arrived at the international stage for the first time.

Posted by Avidcricketlover on (January 23, 2012, 21:43 GMT)

Akmal with a difference ;) !

very true about the wicket keeping ability but batting seems to be just on the start. Umar is full of talent and Kamran was good too in batting but was patchy most of the time. But test matches are about grit and determination. This guy has that but lets see how much he puts in through and becomes consistent.

Posted by haq33 on (January 23, 2012, 21:42 GMT)

Mr Dobell....nobody should EVER say an "Akmal" is "the answer for Pakistan" so prematurely. I strongly fear that your attempted mid-series jinx may yet prove succesful. An excellent ploy indeed.

Posted by donda on (January 23, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

Keep working hard, this guy did well in last test match, batted very well to get a good lead. Just keep on doing good work.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 19:38 GMT)

This article is jumping the gun a bit. Remember Kamran Akmal was good with the bat too. In fact he played quite a few heroic innings. I think the jury is still out on Adnan's qualities as a keeper.

Posted by dmqi on (January 23, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

Adnan did a real good job indeed in the last match. Get advice from Akaml but do not follow him to drop 3 times the same batsman to loose a test and a series ( Australia). That was the worst performance I can remember. Also do not play for a brother as did Umar before, play for the team as you are doing now. Mistakes can be made but not repeated. Good luck young man.

Posted by iBilal on (January 23, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

this Akmal is not a consistent batsman... he played a remarkable innings in last test though... i hope he performs in coming match. By the way, where is that Zulqarnain AWOL Haider?

Posted by chandrase51 on (January 23, 2012, 19:04 GMT)

What a glaring typo - bang in the headlines - AKAML???

Posted by AcrossTheSeam01 on (January 23, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

Change the title, spelled wrong mate

Posted by KarachiKid on (January 23, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

If needs to seek guidance from Kamran Akmal, he should just ask him what was his technique that helped him drop 75 to 100 catches during his career and also ruin Sami and Kaneria's careers. He should then avoid all those "tips"

Posted by dapervez on (January 23, 2012, 18:40 GMT)

I have to say Adnan Akmal is a good addition to the team, impressed with his glove work compared to Kamran as well as he looks like he has a good head on his shoulders.

And the expected changes in the last paragraph of bring Umar Akmal instead of Asad Shafiq i believe should be a welcome change in the pakistan line up since we do need to have a few aggressive players in the team.

Good luck Pakistan !!

Posted by spence1324 on (January 23, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

Good article as ever G Dobell, however as with anything that a englishman writes I am sure some Pakistanis will find something to moan about here.

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