Friday, Dec 19, 2014

ICC World Twenty20: From jail-time to scoring runs for fun, Umar, 23, comes of age

Umar Akmal's devastating knock of 94 runs off just 54 balls delivered a thumping victory to Pakistan against the Aussies on Sunday. (Reuters) Umar Akmal's devastating knock of 94 runs off just 54 balls delivered a thumping victory to Pakistan against the Aussies on Sunday. (Reuters)
By: Press Trust of India | Dhaka | Posted: March 26, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: March 26, 2014 10:33 am

Pakistan’s young batsman Umar Akmal says his match-winning 94-run knock against Australia in the World Twenty20 was his “best” so far and hoped it will prove to be a turning point in his career.

“I love this game and I want to establish myself in all three formats and I know this will only be possible if I can get runs consistently. Hopefully this innings against Australia definitely the best of my career will now prove to be a turning point in my career,” he said, a day before the World T20 paused for a day’s break.

The 23-year old has played 16 Tests, 94 ODIs and 54 T20 matches and has long been considered as an exceptional talent in Pakistan cricket but never lived up to the expectations following his debut Test century in New Zealand five years ago, until he started to score consistently since the Asia Cup in Bangladesh where he also got a hundred.

“I wanted to do well against Australia and the team management told me to go and play my natural game and not be worried about getting out. Thankfully everything clicked for me,” he said.

Cricketing ties

Umar is due to get married to the daughter of former Test leg-spinner, Abdul Qadir soon and said the innings against Australia was also special since it came at a time when his elder brother Kamran was also making a comeback to the team.

“It was great to share that partnership with Kamran who has always encouraged me and supported me in my career. He is my mentor in many ways that is why I also dedicated this innings to him,” he said.

Umar said he had no special preference for any format and just wanted to keep on playing for Pakistan as long as he could. “All three formats have their own set of challenges but obviously, trying to now find a regular place in the Test team is the biggest challenge for me,” he said.

Umar made it clear that he was not a natural wicketkeeper but if the team and captain wanted him to keep he had no problems with that.

“I don’t mind keeping but batting remains my passion and when I get runs it feels I have done my job for my team,” said Umar who has also kept wickets in ODIs and T20 matches for the national team since last year.

The youngster who has got entangled in many controversies in his short career was also asked about his comparisons with India’s Virat Kohli and said he didn’t see any similarity. “We are both different players with our own set of strengths and weaknesses and what is common is we both enjoy scoring continued…

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