Kamran Akmal should stay on the Pakistan team
Catches win matches, but calling Umar Akmal to take over behind the stumps shows the team is panicking.
There is a famous saying in cricket: ‘catches win matches’. Pakistan’s last Group A match against New Zealand is a perfect testament to this rightly so famous saying.
Kamran Akmal’s disappointing show behind the wicket cost Pakistan a wave of success in cricket’s most extravagant event — gifting New Zealand an emphatic victory through Ross Taylor’s heroics. Kamran’s deteriorating ability to carry out his duties seems to be a source of major concern.
Having said that, Pakistan need to reassess their reaction to the faltering wicket-keeper’s promising talent.
While Kamran sat on the training benches from afar and watched his brother Umar Akmal wear the gloves at the training session in Kandy, I wonder if this is the best possible choice for the team. No one is denying that Pakistan fell prey to mistakes with catastrophic repercussions; however, how feasible is it to break the rhythm of a team which entered the World Cup with a bang?
Calling Umar to take over the seat behind the stumps is synonymous to pressing the panic button. This will not only disturb the harmony of the side, it will also detrimentally affect the team’s unity, which so far – minus the match against New Zealand – seems promising enough to earn them the favourites tag.
Kamran has been with the side for a long time and he offers enormous potential with the bat — facts if negated can prove to be dangerous. Besides, we don’t have options; Umar is not a specialist wicket-keeper.
What Kamran needs right now is confidence on manifold levels. He needs self-belief, his teammates’ words of motivation and his coach and captain’s encouragement — and of course a mountain to climb in training. But the good news for Pakistan is that they next play Zimbabwe. Not underestimating the opponent, Pakistan can safely make some subtle changes as trial-and-error.
Saeed Ajmal remains the black sheep in the team. It is not so much as ineffectiveness in his bowling as it is the fact that he has not received enough match time. Pakistan can safely replace Abdur Rehman with Ajmal, given that Rehman is largely a stock bowler.
This will give Ajmal confidence and the opportunity to shine and display his variety as a spinner. Opener Ahmed Shehzad has seen and missed his day on the pitch, it is time for Pakistan to experiment with Asad Shafiq and see what he has to offer.
As far as the general team strategy is concerned, we have seen of late that captains have opened their bowling attack with a fast-bowler and a spinner on the other end.
Arguably, this is a good strategy, given the team has assessed the playing conditions thoroughly. Pakistan have played all their matches in Sri Lanka. Being an island, the pitches automatically present a moist surface in humid conditions. This is optimal for spin bowlers — a feature which the captain should exploit.
Breaking the rhythm of a team that is well invested in an ongoing tournament poses its threats. But it still offers some space for reasonable changes not dramatic or desperate ones. The challenge for Pakistan is to differentiate between the reasonable and desperate changes.
Given that losses are a part of any sport, let’s give our team the space to live through their errors sometimes, because they have the potential to overcome them.
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