Umar could replace Kamran


PALLEKELE – Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi admitted on Wednesday that calamity-hit wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal could be replaced behind the stumps by younger brother Umar at the World Cup. Kamran has come under fire from fans, media and a host of former players for his sloppy glovework which allowed Ross Taylor to escape on nought and eight to smash a breath-taking 131 in New Zealand’s 110-run win on Tuesday. “Keeping with Umar is very much an option and we might try it in the next game (against Zimbabwe on Monday),” Afridi told a local TV in Pakistan, of the same option which team used against South Africa in a one-dayer last year. He also defended Kamran’s hard work.
“If you see Kamran train, he puts in a lot of hard work. I don’t know why luck deserted him. He is also upset about his performance and he realizes it too.”
Asked how “luck” seems to have deserted him so often in the last four years, Afridi smiled and said: “I can’t give an exact answer to that. My job is to back him, to support him and hopefully he will do his best.” Coach Waqar Younis also hinted that Kamran is on borrowed time, but that a decision on his future behind the stumps could be delayed until after the World Cup.
“I think maybe after the World Cup we can think about it but now we are in the middle of the tournament and I don’t think we can make such a change and panic. We should not.” Kamran Akmal has endured a roller-coaster international career. He was first dropped in 2008 for the Asian Cup and again in 2010 when he missed five chances against Australia in Sydney. The 28-year-old also needed clearance from the Pakistan Cricket Board’s integrity committee before being allowed to take part in the World Cup. Afridi, meanwhile, urged his team to learn the lessons of the defeat against New Zealand which knocked his side off top spot in Group A having won their three previous matches.
“There were quite a few lessons to be learned from the defeat, especially those chances we gave to Taylor and when you give such chances to a player like him he makes you pay,” said Afridi, whose team were bowled out for 192. Afridi said his bowlers were poor in the death overs when New Zealand plundered 139 runs off the last 10 overs. “I think the way we started with the ball was good, but then the missed chances maybe demoralised the bowlers and they were very poor in the end,” said Afridi. Afridi hoped his top order batsmen will show improvement in the next game, against Zimbabwe on Monday.
“Our top order did not work well although we have given them the time to settle down and this was the first time we were chasing. We need to learn how to bat while chasing,” said Afridi. “Taylor took the game away from us although the bowlers had reverse swing. But the way he played was brilliant and he took the game away from us,” said the Pakistan captain. Pakistan now have six points from four matches, second in Group A behind New Zealand who also have six points but a better net run-rate. Co-hosts Sri Lanka (five points from four) and Australia (five from three) are third and fourth respectively.