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In the headlines for wrong reasons

Pakistan has produced many talented cricketers who got fame on the international circuit with their performances. Young middle-order batsman Umar Akmal is one of them

In the headlines for wrong reasons

Over the years, Pakistan has produced many talented cricketers who got fame on the international circuit with their performances. Young middle-order batsman Umar Akmal is one of them.

As far as his talent is concerned, there is no question, but his inconsistency and attitude affect his performance in international matches.

In his debut Test against New Zealand at Dunedin in November 2009, when Pakistan were 85-5, Umar Akmal scored 129 runs in the first innings and 75 in the second. Pakistan lost the Test by 32 runs but a young talented middle-order batsman had been found.

Owing to some outstanding performances, people compared Umar Akmal with India’s Virak Kohli, but actually there is no comparison between the two.

Umar, now 27, has played only 16 Tests, scored 1003 runs at an average of 35.82, with only one hundred and six fifties. He has played 116 One-day Internationals, scored 3044 runs with the help of two centuries and 20 half-centuries, averaging 34.59.

Virat, 28, made his Test debut in 2011. He has played 57 Tests in which he has scored 16 centuries and 14 fifties, 4,497 runs, averaging over 49.

He has played 179 ODIs, scored 7,755 at an average of 53.11, including 27 hundreds and 39 fifties.

There is a vast difference in class. Kohli has a far better temperament; he is much more polished, has better sense of responsibility and is now leading the Team India.

Since his debut, Umar Akmal has remained in news due to several disciplinary issues instead of ground performances.

Last week Umar Akmal was dropped from the Champions Trophy squad after failing two consecutive fitness tests.

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq clarified: “We had set a fitness standard which isn’t really a tough one, but Umar Akmal still didn’t meet the average level. Therefore, the management sent him back and Haris Sohail replaced him.”

Umar had been recalled for the Champions Trophy after being dropped from the team that toured West Indies last month. He was also initially excluded from the ODI squad. He was the only one among 31 players who failed the fitness test during the camp held at the NCA in March. But suddenly the NCA fitness instructor declared him fit during the Pakistan Cup in Rawalpindi.

Umar was also dropped from the one-day side after the 2015 World Cup on coach Waqar Younis’s report. He recommended that Umar Akmal be made to earn his spot again in the national squad with consistent performances in domestic cricket.

Last month, Umar and fast bowler Junaid Khan were fined 50 percent of their match fee for misconduct in a Pakistan Cup match.

Umar, who captained Punjab in the tournament, was asked about team changes during the toss in the match against Sindh. He disclosed that Nasir Nawaz had replaced Junaid as he was absent from the ground without informing anybody.

Soon afterwards, Junaid through a short video clip clarified that he was not well and had been advised rest, and that the team management had been made aware of his condition.

In January 2016, Umar received a ban for one match for violating the dress code in a match of Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.

PCB match referee Anwar Khan warned Umar for wearing a promotional logo on his kit, but he did not remove the extra logo.

He had been warned in two earlier matches in the Trophy but had ignored the warnings.

In November 2015, Umar was dropped from the side for the Twenty20 series against England in the UAE for allegedly misbehaving with women at a dance party.

Umar and former Pakistan under-19 captain Azeem Ghuman found themselves in a police station in Hyderabad after being detained at a party. But he was later included in the squad after getting clearance from the police.

In July 2015, the national selection committee ignored Umar for the one-day series in Sri Lanka after he failed to report for the training camp at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. He spoke to NCA head coach Muhammad Akram and told him he was coming the next morning but then he didn’t show up. According to reports, Umar was busy playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20.

All these incidents show what is wrong with Umar Akmal. He has been the bad boy of Pakistan cricket in recent times but is not thinking about bringing any change within him.

After all the happenings, Umar complains that media is against him and creating controversies. “I don’t think I have got the support from the media that I deserved. Every little issue I have been involved in has been blown out of proportion and my statements have been misunderstood. In all this, I have been made out to be an in-disciplined player and person,” Umar claims.

Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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