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Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo
August 7, 2009
Umar Akmal, who destroyed Sri Lanka with a magnificent maiden one-day international century in the fourth ODI at the Premadasa Stadium, has said that he had learned to tackle pressure from his elder brother Kamran Akmal, also a free-scoring batsman.
Umar walked in with his team at 130 for 4 in the 26th over and went on to add a crucial 176 with his captain Younis Khan to raise his team's total to 321. The hosts were bowled out for 175, handing Pakistan their first win on tour. Pakistan trail the five-match series 3-1 with the final game on Sunday.
"I've learnt a lot from my brother on how to tackle pressure. When the team needed runs I knew how to play according to the situation," Umar said after his blazing unbeaten 102 off 72 balls that comprised four sixes and five fours.
"I am thankful to the team management for selecting me and placing faith in my ability. The captain, coach and senior members helped me."
Umar, 19, impressed with a typically aggressive fifty in the third ODI in Dambulla and the twin knocks have impressed his coach, Intikhab Alam.
"I don't think you can say that Umar resembles his elder brother in the way he plays. It's his natural ability to hit the ball," Intikhab said. "The good thing about him is that he is not afraid to play his shots. He accepts challenges and to hit Lasith Malinga over his head for a six is not a joke. You've got to have a lot of ability to do that. It would have given him a lot of confidence.
"Umar has already made his mark, especially coming into the Pakistan team and the way he played showed a lot of maturity. This is what we need: young lads with strong legs and strong minds. The way he went through the whole situation and the whole scenario, full marks to him. He's got a long way to go but also a tremendous future.
"Recently he went to Australia with the Pakistan A team and scored three hundreds. We knew exactly what he was doing there so we all thought after the Test matches that this young boy has done well and deserves some recognition. He's been batting well before and also in domestic cricket. We thought it is the right time to get him over for the ODIs."
Intikhab said the wonderful partnership between Umar and captain Younis (89) gave a lot of confidence to the team for the final ODI and the Twenty20. The pair added 176 off 139 balls for the fifth wicket, with Umar's contribution being 95.
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