On January 29th, 2006, Pakistan played India in the historic National Stadium Karachi in the third Test match of the series. It was a winner takes it all scenario because the first two test ended in draws. The first over of that morning is etched in the minds of all Pakistan fans because Irfan Pathan wreaked havoc and snapped a brilliant hattrick. Suddenly Pakistan was 0/3 and then 39/6. The hope was all lost, no one believed that Pakistan could pull out a miracle, but one man did. He came to the crease when the team was reeling, desperately wanting someone to take command. And here he was, playing perhaps one of the most important knocks of Pakistan’s test history, that man scored a brilliant 113 to take his team to a respectable score of 245. What happened afterwards was nothing short of a miracle as Pakistan went on to win the match by 341 runs. Many of you would be wondering who that man was- His name: Kamran Akmal.
Kamran Akmal the batsman is someone who could have achieved more. He played several innings which bailed Pakistan out form precarious situations and set up the wins. He was an equally good batsman in all three formats. In the Test Arena he played 53 games averaging 30.8 with 12 50s and 6 100s. He averaged 51 against New Zealand (3 games), 44 against India, scoring 4 100s against them, and 38.1 against Sri Lanka which shows that he had the ability to perform against good bowling sides. However, his averages against Australia, South Africa and England are below 30 with a solitary century against the Englishmen, a well-made 154 at Lahore. His best years were 2006, 2007 and 2009 during which he averaged 40.4, 37.5 and 44.69, scoring 4 100s and 11 50s. He had a forgettable 2010 in which he averaged 10 which proved to be the reason of his ouster from the national side. He had a phenomenal home record as he played 15 home games averaging 56.74 and an equally disappointing away record where he averages a below par 23.4. As far as the batting position is concerned his best was at the no.8 position where he averages 34 and has scored 3 100s. As a number 7 batsman he has played 46 innings averaging 31 and scoring 3 100s.
Kamran Akmal is known to be hard-hitting batsman famous for his cut and pull shots. He can score down the ground and could tonk the ball out of the park. However, his ODI record appears to be mediocre by his standards. He has played 158 ODIs till now averaging 26.1, scoring 5 100s and 10 50s. His best averages are against England 35.38, Zimbabwe 34.5 and West Indies 33.6. apart from that he has a poor record against the top teams like New Zealand, India, South Africa and Australia with very few good innings against them. The shocker is his record against India because as far as test are concerned he has played some memorable innings against them but in ODIs he averages just 20 in 27 games played against them with only 2 50s. He has averaged 30+ in his career only four times in 2002, 2005,2008 and 2011 which shows his inconsistency in this format. His home and away average is quite similar so is his record batting first and batting second. Therefore, nothing can be deduced regarding his pressure taking abilities. His best batting position was as an opener where he scored 4 100s and 4 50s. However, in all the batting positions where he played more than 7 innings he couldn’t average more than 30 in any of them.
He was in supreme t20 form in 2009 and 2010 during which Pakistan won the Wt20 2009 where he played well at the top of the order. He averaged 28 in both years which are considered good statistics considering the short nature of the game. He scored his 5 career 50s during these two years and played a remarkable 41 under pressure in the final of the wt20 2009, to set the stage for Pakistan’s win.
Comparing Kamran Akmal with his team mates, his test record during the period 2005-2009 where his thrived the most as a test batsman, he averaged 38 during that time and only Misbah 42, Shahid Afridi 43, Inzamam 55.5. Yousaf 60 and Younis 60.6 were better than him and all were top order batsmen. This shows that as no.8 batsmen Kamran Akmal did balance the team in the presence of these stalwarts. In terms of 50 plus scores Kamran had 17 and was only behind Yousaf and Younis who had 23 and 22 50 plus scores respectively. If we compare the ODI batsmen which played with Kamran during the 4-year period, he seems to be behind them. Mohammad Yousaf leads the chart and Kamran as a top order batsmen average 26 which is equal to his career average. His average stands at no.14 in the list of batsmen who played more than 10 games for Pakistan during 2005-2009. His last good year was in 2011 after which he failed whenever an opportunity was provided to him.
The stats do no justice in explaining the talent Kamran Akmal possess but they do tell how he did in the international arena. Since his axing from the team he has proved to be a match winner in the PSL for his team, Peshawar Zalmi. He is the league highest run scorer across 3 seasons scoring 2 100s, 6 50s with an average of 30 and a SR of 133. He has also hit the most number sixes 49 and the most number of fours 85. He has won the title once and ended as a runner up in 2018.
People may remember Kamran Akmal for his crucial drops, but his batting exploits cannot be ignored. He has played several knocks which have led Pakistan to wins. Maybe his wicket keeping got the better of his talent as a batter which he could show only in bits and pieces. He has rejuvenated himself in the Pakistan Super League and although the fans always keep their eyes on his keeping skill, but I believe that less pressure towards the later part of his career has allowed him to concentrate more towards his batting which has led to spectacular performances in the domestic cricket and the PSL. He was at best a reliable test player, an average ODI player and a good t20 player and never fulfilled the potential he had with the bat.