ICL: Indian Cricket League

Kamran remains first-choice keeper for Gwalior one-dayer


A day after ruling him out of the One-day International series against India because of injury, Pakistan declared on Monday that Kamran Akmal remained their first choice wicket-keeper for the fourth ODI to be played here on November 15.

A Pakistan team official told ‘The News’ that Kamran Akmal is working hard to recover in time for the Gwalior one-dayer and attended a training session with his teammates at the Sahara City near Lucknow on Monday and also underwent a fitness test.

“Kamran Akmal remains our first choice wicket-keeper, there shouldn’t be any doubt about it,” Dr Ahsan Hameed Malik, the team’s media manager, said. His comments came just a day after Pakistan sent an SOS back home, asking the selectors to send in a replacement for the injured Akmal for the rest of the series. They announced that Akmal injured his hand during the current tour of India and will be out of the remaining matches of the ODI series.

It was decided that young wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who led Pakistan to a title-winning triumph in the 2006 Youth World Cup in Sri Lanka, will be sent to India as Akmal’s replacement. But Malik clarified that Sarfraz is just coming to India as a back-up and if fit, Akmal would continue to keep the wicket for Pakistan in the remaining matches of the series that also includes three Tests.

There were speculations that Pakistan asked for a replacement wicket-keeper to assuage media pressure. Pakistani media has been critical of Akmal because of his poor form in recent times. Akmal has been spilling catches regularly since last summer’s tour of England and also dropped Saurav Ganguly off Shoaib Akhtar on the first ball of the third one-dayer against India in Kanpur on Sunday.

Ganguly went on to give India a good start with Sachin Tendulkar and the hosts won the match by 46 runs to go 2-1 up in the five-match series. However, Malik rejected reports that Sarfraz is coming to India to replace Akmal because of the latter’s poor form. “We have called up Sarfraz because Kamran is facing fitness problems. We still have a lot of matches to go in this series and cannot afford not having a specialist wicket-keeper in the playing line-up.”

Malik said that Akmal would continue training with the national team and would undergo another fitness test ahead of the Gwalior one-dayer before a final decision is taken as to who will keep the wickets for Pakistan in the must-win game.

Meanwhile, Sarfraz will join the Pakistan team on November 14 (Wednesday), just a day before the fourth one-dayer. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan, who have the option of fielding opening batsman Yasir Hameed as a stand-in wicket-keeper in Gwalior, will field Sarfraz in the game if Akmal fails to get fit in time. Akmal is suffering from a bruise on his left hand and Malik said tht his injury is not serious. “We are all hoping that he (Akmal) will regain his fitness.”

Source:Cricket News

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