Shahid Afridi backs Akmal brothers

Under fire Kamran Akmal practice before their match against Zimbabwe

Pallekele: Mar 13, 2011

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said Sunday that struggling wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal and his younger brother Umar would play against Zimbabwe on Monday.

There has been confusion over the Akmal brothers ever since the 110-run defeat against New Zealand last week, with elder brother Kamran spilling two crucial chances to dismiss century-maker Ross Taylor. Pakistan considered using Umar Akmal, Kamran’s younger brother, as a makeshift keeper but abandoned those plans after he suffered a finger injury.

There were reports in Pakistani media that Umar had feigned injury to help Kamran keep his place, speculation denied by team management. On Sunday Umar sprained his right ankle while playing football but Afridi confirmed the injury was not serious.

“He (Umar) is fit, it is a light injury. He fielded today and looked better, so definitely he will play tomorrow,” said Afridi of Umar, who also took part in light practice. Afridi admitted there was no better option than going back to Kamran as wicket-keeper.

“Kamran’s performance in batting hasn t been bad but, yes, he is struggling with his keeping. He is working very hard, and we haven t got such an option in the squad to whom we can give a chance in this tournament.

“Kamran has been working hard for four days. He has support and our confidence, he seems a better choice. I think he knows the mistakes he has committed and he will try to cover it for sure and will perform,” said Afridi. Afridi said there were no negative thoughts in the dressing room.

“We are just focusing on day by day and game by game and if we win against Zimbabwe the dressing room atmosphere will be better and positive. A win always gives you confidence,” said Afridi. The skipper said he hoped his batsmen, especially the top order, did not repeat the mistakes they made in the match against New Zealand.

“At the moment our plan is not to lose wickets and be positive. I have already told them to play to your strengths, like you play in domestic cricket, play like that. “Over the last couple of days the openers have worked really hard and the coaches have worked hard with them as well. The results will hopefully come and realising the importance of the match I am confident that they will perform,” said Afridi.

A win for Pakistan, with six points from four matches, would take them through to the quarter-finals.