Pakistan suffered a major loss as batsman Umar Akmal was ruled out of the One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s of the Zimbabwe tour after being advised rest for a few weeks by specialists.
Umar suffered a back strain while playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) where he was performing dual duties as wicket-keeper and batsman.
“Umar is out of the Zimbabwe tour after suffering a back strain in the CPL,” a senior Pakistan Cricket Board official told The Express Tribune. “The doctors have advised him to rest a few weeks and the team management will now be sending Sarfaraz Ahmed as his replacement.”
The talented middle-order batsman had presented impressive form against the West Indies by giving a good batting show, even though he gave an average performance as wicket-keeper.
Umar was Pakistan’s second highest run scorer behind captain Misbahul Haq against the West Indies in the one-dayers and he scored 175 from five matches at an average of 58.33. Additionally, he was responsible for 10 dismissals behind the wickets.
In the Twenty20 series, he top-scored for Pakistan with 55 runs from two matches, besides claiming two wickets.
Jalaluddin, Mohsin blame team management and selectors
Former Test cricketer Jalaluddin believes that it was not a wise decision to ask Umar to keep wickets in 50-over matches.
“This is a loss for Pakistan which was bound to happen because Umar is not a regular wicket-keeper,” said Jalaluddin.
“He should’ve been restricted to a dual role in only the Twenty20 format. The team management and selectors didn’t look into the consequences, making the decision in haste for the West Indies tour.”
Meanwhile, another former Test cricketer Mohsin Khan said that the team management was ruining Umar’s talent by giving him additional responsibilities.
“He is a tremendous batsman and a fielder, so asking him to keep wickets leaves Pakistan handicapped in two positions.
“We have Sarfaraz and Adnan Akmal who can be groomed into good wicket-keepers by giving them confidence. We should stick to them and let Umar concentrate on his batting.”
I’ll grab this opportunity with both hands: Sarfaraz
Sarfaraz has said that he would try to make the most of this unexpected call-up in order to give his career a boost.
“I’ll try to grab this opportunity with both hands because it’s an unexpected call-up for me,” said Sarfaraz. “My main aim is to do well as a wicket-keeper while scoring some handy runs for my team as well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2013.