Umar Akmal rescued Pakistan from a sticky situation with a breezy ton © AFP
Fatullah: Feb 27, 2014
Calling it one of his best knocks, Pakistan‘s centurion Umar Akmal said the plan was to stay till the end in their crucial Asia Cup 2014 match against Afghanistan. Pakistan were struggling at 117 for six at one stage, before the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman knocked the opponents down with a breezy 102-run innings, eventually helping his side post a bonus-point 72-run win.
“It was a team effort. I only wanted to play till the end and that’s what happened. I have learnt a lot from the downs and when I was batting the messages I was getting from the dressing room was to stay till the end. It’s one of my best innings,” the Man of the Match said.
Luck was with Umar as he was dropped much before he started to threaten the Afghanistan bowlers. “When the ball was going in the air I was hopping it would get dropped and I would continue my innings,” he said.
Umar was batting on 28 when lady luck smiled on him.
“Hopefully, I will get more opportunities like this and I want to thank my seniors for their support.”
Relieved to have eke out a win after losing the tournament opener to Sri Lanka, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said his top-order batsmen could have done better as far as shot selection was concerned.
“At the start we were hoping to reach somewhere around 200. But then Umar played one of his best innings and led a very good fightback. The shot selection from the batsmen was disappointing though,” Misbah said.
“They (Pakistan batsmen) did not read the pitch very well and were playing like how it behaved in the first match. They were eyeing the kind of total in the first game, but this was turning and staying low as well. As professionals, they need to read the situation better.
“Afghanistan stuck to the basics and hit the lengths and lines that they planned. They really made it hard to score runs and they’re a really good side and their fielding effort was impressive too. Pakistan’s bowlers put in a great effort, especially the three spinners. Saeed Ajmal was excellent and he considered the bonus point as a bonus.”
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said dropping Umar proved to be the turning point.
“The bowlers bowled brilliantly in the first few overs but Umar Akmal played very well in the end. His drop was the turning point because he is a top batsman. It was a crucial time. Saeed Ajmal bowled brilliantly and we did not expect so much turn.”