Former players question Umar Akmal's absence

Umar Akmal lunges forward for an off drive AFP

Former Pakistan players have questioned the manner in which Umar Akmal was omitted from the second ODI against New Zealand, which Pakistan lost to leave the series tied at 1-1. Akmal's name was a surprising omission from the team sheet at the toss - Shoaib Malik took his place - and Younis Khan's explanation for the change was not entirely clear.

Akmal, 19, has had an excellent start to his international career, scoring his maiden ODI century in just his third game and averages 49.83 in the format.

"It can be very discouraging for a young man like Umar since he has been very impressive in recent games for Pakistan and is raring to go against the Kiwis," said Waqar Younis, commentating on the series in the UAE. "It is bound to shake his confidence in the coming games."

Rameez Raja questioned whether the decision was down to Pakistan's rotation policy or something else entirely. "I would like to know the logic behind this and whose decision was it to omit Umar from this game," he said. "This will only hurt Pakistan."

Abqul Qadir, the former Pakistan legspinner and selector, also expressed his surprise. "How can you drop a batsman when he has impressed all around the world with his brilliant temperament? It will only shatter his confidence and we might lose such a talented player if he continuously gets such treatment in the team."

Qadir, who was chief selector for eight months till June this year, said that he had advised the Pakistan board to focus on younger players during his stint, advice which the board ignored. "I had told the PCB that senior players should only play Test matches and we should find fresh legs from our own domestic ODI and Twenty20 tournament, but the cricket board did not listen to my advice."

Salahuddin Ahmed, another former national selector, was also critical of the decision to drop an in-form player like Akmal. "I think the ouster will hurt the confidence of Umar to a large extent. This should have not been done with him at this moment," he told the Karachi-based Dawn. "I will also not support the decision of dropping Shoaib Malik from the first ODI, since he is one of the best allrounders for this version of the game. Pakistan should have gone with Kamran Akmal with any of the regular openers to make room for both Shoaib and Umar for all these matches."