Comparisons with Virat Kohli unfair to me: Umar Akmal
When Umar Akmal first burst onto the scene in 2009, he made a massive impact on everyone with his audacious strokeplay, even drawing comparisons with former Pakistan batting greats like Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq. On his Test debut against New Zealand in Dunedin, he slammed a majestic 129 to make everyone sit up and take notice of the then 19-year-old. The start to his ODI career was equally impressive, scoring his maiden ODI century in just his 3rd match against Sri Lanka at Colombo.
But, unfortunately, the right-hander hasn't been able to live up to the kind of promise he initially showed, which is illustrated by his average of 34.61 in 109 ODIs and 35.62 in 16 Tests.
On the contrary, India’s Virat Kohli, who began his international career just 12 months before Akmal in 2008, had a mixed start to his international career but has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and is one of the best young batsmen in the game today.
Akmal has constantly drawn comparisons with Kohli with many, especially in Pakistan, still believing that he is as gifted as the latter and that it’s his temperament which has let him down so far.
The 24-year-old Pakistani, however, believes that comparisons with the Indian star would be unjust to him as he, unlike Kohli, doesn’t get the opportunity to bat up the order and rack up big scores.
"It is always my effort to deliver 100 per cent for the team and Pakistan but I know people compare me to Virat Kohli which is not right because he bats higher up the order," Akmal told Pakistani journalists in Adelaide on Thursday.
"I should not be compared to Kohli because if he came into bat at six or seven and performed than I would understand and accept the comparisons. If I get a chance to bat higher up I believe I can perform better than what I do and get big innings," he added.
The right-hander is hopeful that the team management will allow him to bat in the top order in the future and added that he was working hard to ensure that he made use of his starts.
"They have not watched me bat at number three in domestic first-class cricket, that is where I bat most of the time. I can only say they will soon trust me and allow me to bat higher up the order where I feel more comfortable.
“Even now, I am working hard with my coaches to get this knack of converting good starts into big scores. I know I can do that but sometimes the situations I come into bat I don't have time to play long innings,” he said.
I’ve never kept wickets in domestic cricket: Akmal
Apart from his inconsistency with the bat, another aspect which Akmal has been castigated for during the course of this World Cup is his profligacy with the gloves, dropping several important catches which have cost Pakistan dear. As a result, Sarfraz Ahmed came in for Pakistan's last match against South Africa, allowing Akmal to play as a specialist batsman, and immediately showed the importance of having a specialist in that position by taking 6 catches.
Akmal, though, justified his poor show saying that he has never been a wicketkeeper in domestic cricket and that he dons the gloves only as it tends to lend the team a better balance.
"I never kept in first-class cricket. I used to bowl a bit but I made my debut as a batsman. So at times it is difficult to deal with both roles but I do it because of team requirement,” he said.