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Umar Akmal eager to perform for Pakistan and Gladiators after regaining focus and fitness

He was recently recalled into the Pakistan side for the five-match ODI series against Australia in Dubai.

Umar Akmal
Umar Akmal. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The better part of the last two years has been hard on the talismanic Pakistani batsman Umar Akmal. Akmal, who was widely regarded as one of the most talented batsmen in the world of cricket, has spent the last 10 years of his career trying to live up to his potential. The immensely gifted right-handed batsman and wicketkeeper has 3044 runs in 116 ODI matches and 1003 runs in 16 Test matches. He played 82 T20I matches and has scored 1690 runs with a cumulative of 3 international centuries to his name.

Tough time for talented Akmal

Ahead of Pakistan’s victorious ICC Champions Trophy 2017, the younger Akmal brother was dropped from the squad. When he reached the National Cricket Academy in August of 2017, he was turned away as coach Mickey Arthur had barred him from using the facilities at the elite-most cricket training centre of the country and asked him to go and play club cricket.

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When he took his case to the chief selector and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, he relayed the same instructions to him and Akmal had no other option than working on his fitness and regain his focus on cricket.

“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 was quoted by Dawn as saying on Saturday.

He scored 736 runs (averaging almost 41) and was third-highest run-getter in the 2018 Quaid-i-Azam Trophy for winners Habib Bank Limited.

Opportunities come galore for Umar Akmal

Akmal was then traded to Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League franchise, which saw him interact with the likes of West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards, former Pakistan wicketkeeper Moin Khan, former all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and Azam Khan.

“I’m grateful that we have such a big legend [Richards] in our team and I’m learning a lot from him. I’m working on my power hitting and Razzaq bhai is helping me with it. Azam Khan too has helped me staying on the right track,” 28-year-old Akmal was quoted as saying by Dawn.com.

“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,” Dawn quoted Akmal as saying.

He was recalled into the Pakistan side for the five-match ODI series against Australia in Dubai and wants to move on from the past and wants to play in this series as it was his debut series. He requested support of the fans and asked them to back him and the team.

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