Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13 March 13, 2013

Former openers call for Kamran Akmal promotion

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Mudassar Nazar and Mohsin Khan, the former Pakistan opening pair, has urged the team to settle on the opening three positions in the side, in order to bring about stability to the batting line-up. They support the idea of Kamran Akmal being used either as opener or at No. 3 in limited-over matches, in order to get the best out of the wicketkeeper batsman.

During the ongoing South Africa tour, both captain Misbah-ul-Haq and vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez were reportedly at loggerheads over playing Kamran Akmal in the opening slot. Hafeez was asked to bat at No. 3, but this apparently did not sit well with him.

Akmal has played 62 of 144 ODIs as an opener, scoring 1617 runs (55.15 %) of his career runs. He has been asked to compromise in the past by batting in the late middle-order. In the middle order slot, he has scored 669 (22.82 %) of his runs, with only one hundred. His other four hundreds were scored as an opener.

Hafeez, in his last ten ODI innings, has scored 233 runs at an average of 23.30, including three ducks. He has consistently played as opener since Salman Butt's exit in 2010. During the recent Test series against South Africa, Hafeez averaged 7.16 in six innings as an opener. As a result, Hafeez was demoted in the batting order.

"I don't know what is going on, but demoting yourself down the order is difficult and tough only when you are insecure," Mohsin said, who started his career as a No. 3 batsman, opened on the request of his captain Imran Khan. "It's all for the sake of the team, and if you continue to be stubborn it will eventually cost the team and become a liability."

The key reason for Kamran's selection is because of his skills with the bat, although there are other wicketkeepers on the domestic circuit who can replace him. Mohsin, who was a former chief selector, believed Kamran is there for a reason, and should be utilised accordingly. "Using Kamran in the middle order is ineffective," Mohsin said. "Despite being a talented batsman, he is being misused. If your top five batsmen aren't performing, then it's unfair to expect something big from the number six."

After the Nazar/Mohsin pair, and the departure of Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar, Pakistan have been experimenting with several players in the hope of finding a reliable opening duo. The last enduring opening pair in limited-overs was that of Salman Butt and Kamran, between 2005 and 2010. Both added 1000 ODI runs in 29 matches. In the last ten years, several combinations have been tried, but a stable pair is yet to be found.

"Pakistan have not backed their opening combinations since early 2000s, and this is the main reason we have not achieved stability yet," Nazar said. "We can stick to Hafeez and Nasir at the opening slot, but the scoring rate by Younis and Misbah is very slow and that is damaging. We need to reshuffle the batting order in order to make it steady. The No. 3 batsman is very important and at the moment I see Kamran as the best man [for the position]. Playing him at No. 6 or 7 is wasting him."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zah1231 on March 15, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    Misbah, Younis, Malik & Afridi have passed their prime and should be dropped from ODI. IMO it should be 1) Nasir 2)Shehzaad 3)Kamran 4)Umar Akmal 5) Hafeez 6) Asad 7)Razzaq 8)Junaid 9)Ajmal 10) Umar Gul 11)Irfan

  • dummy4fb on March 15, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    play ahmed shahzad and umar akmal both and attack africans

  • dummy4fb on March 15, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    kamra needs propmotion or omission he is not a good wicketkeeper batting can save him or find a good wicketkeeper batsman

  • AmjadZork on March 15, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Iam hugely in favor of promoting Afridi & bringing him as an opener. If he stays jus for the power play - i guess then we are pretty well on track !!

  • dummy4fb on March 15, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    It's pretty funny when you said but a stable pair is yet to e found. Hafeez and jamshed as a pair are excellent. Stats tell the story :)

  • kamranwasti on March 15, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    " Mohsin said, who started his career as a No. 3 batsman, opened on the request of his captain Imran Khan."

    Mohsin did not start opening because of Imran Khan. After Sadiq's decline and Majid's reluctance to open post-1979, Pakistanis struggled with openers. Basically, after the 1978 series with India the two never opened together. Mudassar became the automatic opener. Mohsin had actually been a makeshift opener in the Melbourne test of 1979 (the one in which Sarfraz took 9 for 86 with the 7 for 1 spell). So when Pakistanis took a teenaged Rizwan uz Zaman to Australia and found him struggling, they had an SOS for Mohsin who had already opened once in Australia and he ended up showing how naturally gifted he was at playing fast-bowling. Mudassar and Mohsin ended up opening through the Australian tour and then the series in Sri Lanka and by the time Imran was made captain, were already the settled opening pair.

  • fareeds28 on March 15, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Current pair is perfect one give them more chances they will come up one day

    my openers

    MOHAMMED HAFEEZ

    NASIR JAMSHEED

  • dummy4fb on March 15, 2013, 2:28 GMT

    Mohammad Hafeez has done well at No 3 (T20 in case) and should play there. K Akmal to open.

  • dummy4fb on March 14, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    Kamran still bats like an over eager 19 year old. Perhaps hes just good for t20 cricket.

  • ammar7may on March 14, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    IMO, 1) Nasir 2) Hafeez 3) Younis 4) Afridi 5) Misbah 6) U Akmal 7) Kamran 8) U Gul 9) Ajmal/Ab Rehman 10) Junaid 11) W Riaz/Irfan

    Agree to Ibrarhunzai for not sending Younis (Score: 6928, Centuries:6, Fifties: 48), Misbah (s:3090, c:0, f:20), Malik (s:5335, c:7, f:31) and Asad (s:935, c:0, f:7). They all are dead slow. Afridi (s:7109, c:6, f:33) has the technique, so after over # 20, he must be given a go. He is the most dangerous cricketer, and with his presence, the score will surely move with pace. With 5-6 innings at this position, he will get the much needed confidence to extend the innings towards the end of over # 50. Umer Akmal (s:2001, c:1, f:16) still has a long way to prove, but being world no.15, he is not given appropriate chances, by keeping him too lower the order. Kamran Akmal (s:2932, c:5, f:9) is a reliable batsman, but not a reliable wicket keeper.

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