Umar Akmal came into the Pakistan side much later than his elder brother Kamran, who had cemented his place in the Pakistan line-up in pretty much all three formats.
Once he arrived, he was tipped to be the next big thing not only in Pakistan, but internationally as well. However, as we all know, he failed to live up to the billing.
Umar was selected for the tour of Sri Lanka — his debut — on the basis of impressive performances with Pakistan A on the tour of Australia. He delivered right away as in just the third match of his career he registered a stunning century, the first of his only two ODI centuries.
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Since then, only little has been heard from Umar’s bat as it is more his off-field antics which usually make headlines.
It was not only him, but cricket pundits and former cricketers also claimed that he is ‘very talented’, and that he needs to be given more chances.
After more than 110 ODIs, 80 T20Is and 15 Tests, he is still seen as the ‘very talented’ one, which means the 26-year-old hasn’t progressed much in his career.
So what has gone wrong over the years with Pakistan’s version of Virat Kohli?
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Umar’s most recent return came in the series against West Indies, where he hardly got a chance to bat, so he was selected for the tour of Australia as well.
Due to Sarfraz Ahmed’s absence, the 26-year-old got his opportunity to leave a mark in the five-match series against Australia, but he failed miserably.
During the time in which Umar was not selected for the national side, the fiery batsman kept on blaming lack of overs to build his innings as the main reason why he never delivered. However, in the recently-concluded Australia series, he had 20 overs or so to bat and make his contribution count but he could not impress with his performances.
Apart from the 46 in the final innings, the middle-order batsman scored 83 runs in his first four matches at an average of just over 28, and with a below-par strike rate of just over 71, a return which is extremely disappointing from a batsman whose role is to accelerate the game in the final stages of the innings.
What’s even more frustrating for the fans is to see how unfit he is, where he turned threes into twos and twos into ones, especially in the Perth ODI, where the Men in Green were in a commanding position, and looked set to score in excess of 300. But Umar’s effort played a vital role in making sure the team finished well below their desired target, which eventually led the team to defeat.
Digging deeper into Umar’s stats makes his decline ever more plausible. Till 2011, Umar’s first three year’s collective average was of nearly 40 with a strike rate of over 86, whereas since 2011 his collective average is 29.61 with strike rate of 82.75.
Umar’s case is a prime example of how he was being praised before time, and how his flaws were ignored because of his ‘talent’.
He is another example of what happens when the authorities don’t know what to do with players who have attitude problems.
The solution for Umar’s career is best known to him, but because he himself is unsure of what he is capable of, he won’t be knowing what’s best for his career as well.
This is exactly why eight years after making his debut, India’s Kohli is now amongst the greats of the game, whereas our so-called Kohli is still struggling for chances.
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