Umar Akmal gets Waqar seal of approval

Umar Akmal was lauded by Pakistan coach Waqar Younis as one of the most talented players of his generation after setting up a 23-run win over Australia.

updated: July 06, 2010 17:01 IST
  • Total Shares


Umar Akmal was lauded by Pakistan coach Waqar Younis as one of the most talented players of his generation after setting up a 23-run win over Australia in the first Twenty20 international at Edgbaston on Monday.

Umar struck a Twenty20 international best 64, off just 31 balls with three sixes and seven fours, as Pakistan ended their 12-match losing streak against Australia in all formats.

What made his innings even better was Umar, still only 20-years-old, had come in with Pakistan deep in trouble at 47 for four.

But Umar's bold hitting helped his side to 167 for eight and, with Australia dismissed for 144, there was no repeat for Pakistan of their heart-breaking loss to the Aussies in the World Twenty20 semi-final in St Lucia in May when Michael Hussey's unbeaten 60 off just 24 balls denied them victory.

"He is probably the most talented cricketer I have seen in the past 15-20 years," Waqar, speaking to reporters, said of Umar.

"We know he is a talent and he can take us out of trouble. He's done it in the last few matches.

"At one stage we thought it was going to be very, very difficult, but the way he played was outstanding.

"He's just amazing. He's only young, he's only 20. He's got heaps of time and he's a good learner, a good listener which is good. I have no doubt that he is going to go right to the top.

"He's very talented. Time will teach him more and he'll be right up there at the top. He's fabulous to have in the side."

Fast bowling great Waqar was delighted his side had finally beaten Australia ahead of Tuesday's second and final Twenty20 here at Edgbaston and this month's two Test series in England between the sides.

"It was a long wait," he said. "It means a huge amount. We have some real youngsters in the side and even guys sitting on the bench are very young. So it is very pleasing."

Australia's loss saw captain Michael Clarke again fail with the bat in a Twenty20 match after he averaged just 15.33 in the Caribbean during a campaign that ended with his side losing to England in the final.

At Edgbaston, he made just five before chipping Abdul Razzaq to Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi at short extra-cover.

"As a batsman you always want to score runs, as a bowler you always want to take wickets," Clarke said. "If you are not scoring runs well, you need to find a way and continue to back yourself."

Australia were well-placed at 81 for two when David Warner (41) and David Hussey (34) were going well but saw both batsmen fall in consecutive overs, with their last six wickets falling for 35 runs.

"I thought 167 was definitely a gettable total on a pretty good wicket and fast outfield. We were a little bit disappointing with the bat," Clarke said.

"Hopefully we can build a few more partnerships earlier on in Tuesday's game and when the spinners come on we've got batters who are in.

"We lost wickets at crucial times."

Clarke also praised the performance of man-of-the-match Umar, who made an unbeaten 56 in St Lucia, saying: "He played well, didn't he?

"He's a very clean striker of the ball. He's played really well the last couple of times against us so hopefully we can get a few more wickets earlier and get him in when the ball is newer."