Umar Akmal burst onto the international scene with a blazing hundred in his first international match against Sri Lanka in the second One Day International at Dambulla in 2009. In the same year, on a difficult Dunedin track, where his teammates struggled to bat, he was fearless and exhibited high-profile stroke-play, and smashed an eye-catching hundred in his debut Test.
Umar Akmal is regarded as one of the most talented young batsmen in the world cricket. Whenever he comes to bat, the commentators just can’t stop chanting the word “talent”. But, even after playing 4 years of his international cricket, many believe Umar Akmal hasn’t achieved what he is capable of achieving. Every now and then, he plays a horrible shot and throws his wicket away. He hasn’t been able to convert his starts into big scores, and this has been his biggest criticism. After his debut ODI match in which he scored a brilliant hundred, Umar Akmal has played 96 ODIs and scored only one more hundred. It’s true true that, because he bats at number 5 or 6 in the batting order, he doesn’t get too many balls to face, and his role is mainly defined as a finisher. But, having said this, Umar Akmal hasn’t made the most of the opportunities that he has got batting in the middle-order for Pakistan.
The all important Cricket World Cup is just around the corner, and Pakistan will be relying heavily on Umar Akmal, as far as their batting is concerned. Umar Akmal needs to perform. In the past, his inexperience at international level has shielded him from criticism but he’s been around a few years now and still wasting good starts.
If we talk about the ODIs played against the top teams, Umar Akmal has played 25 ODIs between 2013 and 2014. In these 25 matches, he has scored only 554 runs at a poor average of 29.15. If we compare this to his career average (37.26), it clearly shows that he hasn’t been in the best of forms, and this is a big worry for Pakistan, going into the final stages of the preparations for the World Cup 2015.
In my opinion, the answer to Umar Akmal’s lies in the old cricketing mantra of occupying the crease. Although Umar Akmal has played 169 international matches, but he hasn’t matured as a batsman. Umar Akmal needs to think deeply about his batting, cutting down the number of strokes he tries to play and focusing on a few key scoring areas.