Umar Akmal has ended an 11-year association with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and will play for United Bank Limited (UBL) in the 2017-18 domestic season that begins in September. The department has vowed to revive the player's career and return him to international cricket in better shape.
Akmal played 47 first-class games for SNGPL, scoring 3216 runs at 45.29, with four hundreds and 20 fifties. His relationship with SNGPL had suffered a blow last season, when he went on to play for Lahore Whites despite his department not releasing him. His stint with Lahore only lasted two games.
The 27-year-old Akmal last played for Pakistan in January, during the ODI series in Australia. Originally part of their Champions Trophy in England, he was sent back home before the tournament for failing two fitness tests in two days. Just under two months later, he was left out of the PCB's list of 35 centrally contracted players.
"He has been discarded from the national team, but we want him in our fold, and look forward to help him become a better player," Mansoor Khan, UBL's sports head, told ESPNcricinfo. "He is an asset and we want to work with him and help him revive his career.
"There are high expectations as he has the talent but has not been able to find middle ground. He is an exciting player and ambitious, but has not been able to get himself settled. He has immense talent and we want to shape him up. There always something in him and we want to give him an opportunity for his good and for Pakistan cricket."
Despite his omission from the list of centrally contracted players, Akmal was named among the players selected to undergo the ongoing 10-week high performance camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He pulled out, however, citing a knee injury. He excused himself for five weeks, during which he intended to undergo rehabilitation with his private trainer in England. On Friday, though, he returned to Lahore, hoping for a call-up to Pakistan's conditioning camp, which begins on August 22, in preparation for a full series against Sri Lanka starting in October. Any such call-up, however, was ruled out by head coach Mickey Arthur.