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Umar Akmal's 94 Proves Pakistan Have the Firepower to Win WT20

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - MARCH 23:  Umar Akmal of Pakistan bats during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between Australia and Pakistan at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on March 23, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

Umar  Akmal's firecracker of an innings (video highlights below) against Australia has sent the bookmakers running for cover as a new possibility has emerged; Pakistan can win this tournament.

In recent years, the Pakistanis would have crumbled at various points during this game. When they were 25 for 2 in the fifth over of their innings and also when the Aussies were flying at 126/2 for instance.

However, this time a refusal to panic and the underlying confidence running through the team saw them get over the line. And nowhere was this more evidenced than in Akmal's assured knock. Let's take a quick look at the enigmatic batsman's career so far.

 InningsRunsHighest scoreAverageStrike rate50s100s
Tests30100312935.8265.9861
ODIs832623102*38.5787.08192
T20Is5112209429.04122.8660

 

The Good

At the tender age of 19, Akmal made a stunning start to his career, recording a century against New Zealand on his Test match debut. More scores of significance followed including a triple-figure score against Sri Lanka in just his third ODI.

This flying start, combined with his aggressive style and inclination to play shots quickly made him a fan favourite, and Pakistan seemingly had a new batting hero on their hands.

 

The Bad

As happens so often, Akmal suffered an inevitable dip in form and found himself dropping in and out of the Pakistan Test side after scoring just one half century between January 2010 and May 2011.

The strokemaker fared a little better in limited-overs cricket but still endured criticism for failing to turn starts into match-winning innings and saw his averages steadily decline across all three formats.

Some high-profile missed chances behind the stumps, when forced to utilise his second-string skills as a wicketkeeper, didn't help either.

 

The Ugly

A handful of off-the-field issues have also blotted Akmal's career, the most recent of whichas reported by the BBC, was an altercation with a traffic warden earlier this year.

Additionally, a couple of incidents involving alleged "fake injuries" in protest at the dropping of his brother have surfaced over the years.

One case was at the 2011 ODI World Cup as documented in the Times of India, while a similar case materialised on a 2010 tour of Australia as mentioned in this ESPN Cricinfo article.

 

The Future

Fortunately, as evidenced by his blistering knock against the Aussies, Akmal's career finally appears to be on an upward curve with his 94 the latest in a line of decent scores, including two 50s and a 100 at the Asia Cup.

Maybe it's the result of finally finding a settled position in the line-up—No. 4 in T20 cricket and No. 6 in ODIs. Or maybe it's just a newfound maturity? 

Either way, at the age of 23, Akmal has the ability and the time to go on and become the cornerstone of the Pakistan batting line-up for years to come.

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