In-form Umar Akmal Eyes 2019 World Cup Berth for Pakistan
Pakistan middle-order batsman Umar Akmal has vowed to continue on improving. The Lahore-based talented batsman Umar has recently made it to Pakistan’s 16-man squad for the five-match ODI series against Australia. However, Umar is banking on his performances for the impending series in a bid to improve his chances for the 2019 World Cup.
“I want to maintain my current form. To start with, I’m focusing on the [PSL] final. After this, I’ll join the national team. I’ll try to perform in every match I play and improve day by day,” Umar told Dawn.
The much-awaited series against Australia will kick-off March 22 in Sharjah as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is second-adopted for Pakistan since 2009 gruesome attack on Sri Lanka team bus at Liberty Chowk in Lahore.
Concurrently, the promising batsman Umar is representing Quetta Gladiators (QG) in the ongoing fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
The prolific run-getter has been involved in a couple of controversies before earning his return following a brilliant show in the domestic fold.
The hard-hitting batsman Umar was forced by Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur to return home ahead of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales. He recently added Arthur has termed him as a ‘match winner.
“I worked on my fitness and tried to regain the focus I think I had lost. I spent time playing club cricket [when out of national team] as Mickey Arthur and Inzi bhai asked me to do,” Umar added.
Umar is hopeful to give his best and maintain his calm ahead.
“Mickey told me I was a match winner and I can finish games and I can do that if I display more control. I’m trying to avoid playing irresponsible shots and the Quetta Gladiators team management deserves credit for fixing that side of my game,” Umar asserted.
Umar appeals to his fans for support:
He maintained the fans will witness high-quality cricket while requesting them to back him on his return.
“I want to forget whatever has happened in the past, whether it is good or bad. I’ll play this series just like it’s my debut. I request the fans to back me and the team,” Umar said.
However, he joined the camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore to improve on his fitness.
Back then, Inzamam-ul-Haq has backed Arthur for his verdict on asking Umar to partake at the club level cricket.
In 2018, Umar has responded his critics by scoring runs while averaging over 40 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He scored 736 runs to play a significant role for the Habib Bank Limited (HBL).
In the recent past, owing to the discipline and poor fitness, Umar has lost his place in the playing XI. In between, Arthur has tightened the noose by maintaining discipline and fitness will be his first priority.
Umar lauds Viv Richards:
While recently trading with Gladiators, after joining Lahore Qalandars. Currently, Umar is among the top run-getters of PSL with 277 runs while averaging 34. He has given starts to Gladiators to deliver goods on his maiden stint with Gladiators led by Sarfraz Ahmed.
In conclusion, Umar has expressed gratitude to share the dressing room with Windies great Vivian Richards, former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Moin Khan and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq.
“I’m grateful that we have such a big legend [Richards] in our team and I’m learning a lot from him,” he concluded.
The 28-year-old Umar made his debut in August 2009 against Sri Lanka. He has featured in 116 ODIs, 82 T20Is and 16 Tests for Pakistan.
Well, against Australia, he is making a potential return after a prolonged gap of over two years.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor
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