Umar Akmal keen to upset India's applecart

Umar Akmal keen to upset India's applecart

Umar AkmalAkmal is fast emerging out of the shadows of his elder brother Kamran with an average of 77 in one-day internationals and a fabulous strike rate of 100.

Akmal is intent on giving a good name to Pakistan's much-maligned batting which has relied all too heavily on the senior trio of Younus Khan, Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq in recent times.

The latest example of the young lad shepherding the floundering score of 76 for 5 against the West Indies to safety in the Champions Trophy opener on Wednesday is an ample proof.

The young Akmal admires Tendulkar and Dravid but wouldn't mind turning the evening sour for the celebrated Indian batsmen at Centurion tomorrow.

He scores big and at a brisk rate, once smashing 248 off 225 balls and 186 off 170 deliveries in first-class cricket.

In the under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, he led the run-gathering with 255 runs at a strike rate of 123.18. He duly got his international break against Sri Lanka recently, beginning with a half century in his second game and a power-packed hundred in his third match.

Even though Akmal once hit four sixes out of the stadium in a first class game and more recently smashed Lasith Malinga back over his head for a towering six, he is more of a manipulator of the field who only shifts gear once he is set.

His coach Intikhab Alam already can't help rave about him.

"I don't think you can say that Umar resembles his elder brother in the way he plays. It's his natural ability to hit the ball.

"The good thing about him is that he's not afraid to play his shots. He accepts challenges. This is what we need, young lads with strong legs and strong minds," he said.

India's strategy against Pakistan has always been to restrict the arch rivals to a lowly total, ensuring their batsmen would have no trouble in surmounting the challenge even against a quality, world-class attack.

But it would be trouble if Pakistan's batsmen also start weighing in with meaty runs. Akmal already is intent on giving his side's batting a fair chance at beating India in an ICC event something which hasn't happened.

The issue which would trouble the Indians is the maturity this batsman has exhibited at a young age. He is flexible enough to defend in moments of dire needs.

The Indians so far have had little personal experience of testing the skills of the young cricketer. They would go by the CDs of recent matches to form an opinion against Akmal.