Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal is avoiding social media and staying close to friends and family as he looks to come out of one of the lowest points of his cricketing career.
The 27-year-old batsman was seen as the most promising talent in world cricket when he started his international career in 2009. However, countless opportunities and frustrating performances later, Umar finds himself perpetually close to being cast adrift.
The lack of confidence in his game has come to the fore in the ongoing Pakistan Super League, with the Lahore Qalandars batsman dropped from the side after just 57 runs from five matches. He does not even feature on the 15-member team sheet now.
There have been unverified reports about frosty relations between the Lahore team management and Umar. Whether they are true or not, the fact is Umar faces an uphill task to regain the trust of team management and even the public with the beleaguered batsman one of the most trolled personalities in the world.
During a meet and greet session at the Wafi Mall in Dubai, Umar steered clear of specific questions about his woeful form and ouster from the team. However, he did reveal how he is keeping himself upbeat.
“My best friends, my brothers keep me motivated. My wife has been especially supportive. She boosts my morale, so do my parents. Listening to music, having food with close friends keeps negativity out of my mind,” Umar told Sport360 on Saturday.
“Obviously, I am staying away from social media. I have a team that handles my social media accounts. They just inform me about the positive aspects and don’t tell me anything about negative (remarks).”
Umar, however, is not losing hope and promises to rework certain aspects of his game once the PSL finishes. “I will work on my game after the PSL. Hopefully there will be improvement.”
Islamabad United defeated Peshawar Zalmi by 26 runs to go top of the PSL standings on Friday night.
JP Duminy starred with the bat, with an unbeaten 73 to help the team post their highest PSL total of 182-5, while Samit Patel claimed four wickets for the 2016 winners.
Here are the key points from the match:
JP Duminy makes Peshawar Zalmi pay
The South African’s highest score in this year’s competition was his unbeaten 43 against Karachi Kings, but that score was smashed by some distance.
The left-hander was lucky to still be at the crease when dropped by Liam Dawson on 18 and the veteran batsman made the most of his opportunity.
Rotating the strike even when wickets were falling, he was not afraid to attack with Dawson, Ibtisam Sheikh and Wahab Riaz on the receiving end as Islamabad put up their highest PSL score ever.
Samit Patel becoming the perfect replacement
Samit Patel makes TRIPLE breakthrough... Smith and Fletcher follow Kamran Akmal to the dugout!— PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 9, 2018
PZ 54/3 in 8 overs
129 needed off 72balls.#SherKiDhaar at Dubai.#DilSeJaanLagaDe#IUvPZ pic.twitter.com/nBLnFAW4A7
The 33-year-old all-rounder is proving to be a successful replacement for Islamabad United.
Replacing Sri Lanka all-rounder Asela Gunaratne, the former England international was effective with the ball. Having trapped Kamran Akmal LBW, Patel’s spin deceived Peshawar batsmen with Andre Fletcher and Dwayne Smith both dismissed in consecutive balls as Islamabad United took charge.
He eventually finished with figures of 4-34 and did his fielding part by catching Umaid Asif in the final over.
Islamabad United making a late charge
After two straight losses, Islamabad United are beginning to find the form that won them the title back in 2016.
This is their fifth win and a result that puts them to the top of the standings with two groups games to go.
Head coach Dean Jones has reiterated it’s not how you start the tournament, it’s how you finish it and Islamabad are showing signs that they’re finding their form at just the right time.
Luke Ronchi has been showing signs of his batting potential Islamabad United with two consecutive half-centuries before Friday’s match against Peshawar Zalmi.
The 36-year-old smashed 77 and 71 against Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi respectively and was aiming for another big score against the reigning champions.
Here, we analyse his performance in the 26-run victory at Dubai International Stadium.
His stay at the crease lasted less than five overs but by that time, fans had already witnessed some hard-hitting boundaries from the former New Zealand batsman. Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars were both on the receiving end when they faced Islamabad United last week.
It looked like Peshawar Zalmi’s bowlers were going to be taken apart in similar fashion especially when Ronchi smashed two fours off an over from Hasan Ali. Wahab Riaz had it even worse as three straight balls went to the ropes but the Pakistani had the final say, dismissing him with the very next ball in the fourth over.
Opening the innings, did his part with the bat by going on the attack. It wasn’t a knock that got people talking but with his wrist-work and accuracy, he got enough bat on the ball to beat the fielders for the boundaries.
A useful knock from the Kiwi and Islamabad United will be hoping there will be more big runs in him as the tournament enters the latter stages.