West Indians will like Akmal's batting - Alam
Gros Islet, St Lucia– Pakistan Team Manager Intikhab Alam believes that Umar Akmal, the dashing right handed middle order batsman can become a darling of the West Indian public.
“The people of the Caribbean will like the way he plays because he’s so entertaining and exciting and hits the ball exceptionally well,” said Alam of the 20 year old who has already featured in 21 International Twenty20s and 37 One Day Internationals.
Akmal played in six T20 matches in the Caribbean during the World Twenty20 Championship in 2010 but has never faced the West Indies in an international match.
Four of his six Caribbean T20s were at the Beausejour Cricket Grounds in St Lucia where the Digicel Twenty20 and the First and Second Digicel ODIs will be played.
Akmal has two half centuries on that ground, including a destructive 35 ball 56 against Australia in the semi final of the World Twenty20 which Pakistan lost after a blitzkrieg 60 from 24 balls by Michael Hussey.
“He’s a special talent, he has done well but overall all the boys need to put in the hard work, commitment and discipline for us to leave the Caribbean happy after this tour,” reasoned Alam, the 69 year old former leg spinner and coach.
“We’ve brought some youngsters with us and I think it’s a golden opportunity for them to make a name for themselves and to make a career in the sport,” Alam said.
“It was a long journey from Pakistan to the Caribbean but we travelled well and the boys are all happy and they’re well,” revealed Alam who played the last of his 47 Tests at the Queen’s Park Oval against the West Indies in 1977.
That match is famous for Colin Croft’s destructive 8 for 29 (including Alam who was bowled by Croft without scoring) which remains the best bowling figures by a West Indian fast bowler in a Test match.
Reflecting on Pakistan’s impressive showing in the recently concluded Cricket World Cup when they reached the semi-final before being beaten by eventual winners India, Alam said they were happy to prove the pundits wrong.
“When the World Cup started nobody really rated us. I think the boys have done a great job. The people in Pakistan are very happy. Now the expectations are even higher for this tour of the West Indies because we have never won a series out here before,” Alam said.
“We enjoy touring the Caribbean, it’s always a pleasure for our boys to come to the Caribbean. I personally have spent a lot of time here and I cherish the friendship of the greats like Sir Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd and others,” Alam said.
The Pakistan team held their first training session at Beausejour on Saturday after arriving in the Caribbean on Friday.
They are scheduled to play their first warm-up game against the Vice Chancellor’s XI at the Mindoo Phillip Park. The match was switched from Beausejour to allow for preparations leading up to the Digicel Twenty20 on Thursday April 21st.
Digicel Series Schedule
April 18: Pakistan v Vice Chancellor’s XI (50 over) – Mindoo Phillip Park
April 21: Digicel Twenty20 – Beausejour Cricket Ground
Digicel ODI Series
April 23: First Digicel ODI – Beausejour Cricket Ground
April 25: Second Digicel ODI – Beausejour Cricket Ground
April 28: Third Digicel ODI – Kensington Oval
May 2: Fourth Digicel ODI – Kensington Oval
May 5: Fifth Digicel ODI – Guyana National Stadium
May 8-9: Two-day practice match – Bourda Cricket Ground
May 12-16: First Digicel Test – Guyana National Stadium
May 20-24: Second Digicel Test – Warner Park