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January 31, 2007
Akmal had a poor Test series against South Africa, where he fumbled a number of catches and stumpings in all three Tests, and some at crucial points. It was the second poor away series in succession, following an equally miserable tour to England last summer. His performance has led to calls for replacing him with Zulqarnain Haider, the reserve wicketkeeper on tour.
Bari, one of the world's best wicketkeepers in his time, told Cricinfo that a rest might be just the tonic for Akmal. "It isn't the worst idea to rest him. Sometimes a rest does you good as an international player, especially when you are going through a bad patch as Kamran is right now," Bari said.
"I will recommend it to the management, though I am not sure how they will play it. Maybe they could rest him from the first three games and give Zulqarnain a chance," he added.
Bob Woolmer, Pakistan's coach, also admitted that Akmal was struggling with his confidence, telling Cricinfo: "He is fighting with his confidence now. Technically his hands are hard and not soft and he is not concentrating on the ball hard enough for long enough. He will come right, he just needs support."
Haider has yet to play an international for Pakistan though he has been on the fringes of selection over the last two years. He was Pakistan's Under-19 wicketkeeper during their World Cup triumph in Dhaka during 2004. That year, as the senior team looked beyond Moin Khan and Rashid Latif, Haider was competing with Akmal for the spot. The latter's batting won him his place and since then his form, and Pakistan's policy of taking only one keeper on tour, has meant little opportunity for Haider. That may now change.
"I have always suggested that Zulqarnain be given a try at international level. If you don't, you will never know how mature he is, how suited he is to international cricket," Bari said.
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