It’s fair to say that Umar Akmal’s career has been up and down so far – but he was on a high in Dubai for Quetta Gladiators on Friday night.
It was a timely reminder of just how good Ukmal – who scored Test and ODI tons as a teenager – can be on his day.
The mercurial big-hitter has not been seen in Pakistan colours since he was dropped from the Champions Trophy squad for failing a fitness test in 2017.
But after watching Umar fire for his side, Sarfraz was quick to give him the seal of approval for a potential return.
“Umar is a talented player and he can always do well for his team. If he continues to play like this, I’m sure he will soon make a comeback,” Sarfraz was quoted as saying by Geo after the game.
'Player of the Match' @Umar96Akmal played an unbeaten innings of 75 runs to propel @TeamQuetta to a 6-wicket win over @PeshawarZalmi— Cricingif (@_cricingif) February 15, 2019
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details 👉 https://t.co/hYpj090J2a #PSL2019 #PZvQG #KhelDeewanoKa #CricketForAll #CaltexPakistan pic.twitter.com/MmCr59VMVK
Friday’s result was some measure of revenge for the Gladiators, who saw their PSL hopes snuffed out in a heart-breaking one-run defeat against Peshawar in last year’s eliminator.
Sarfraz was delighted with the winning start but admitted that ‘at the same time, it is important to keep that momentum’.
He added: “We will try to continue with same momentum and passion in the tournament.”
Quetta next play reigning champions Islamabad United in Dubai on Sunday.
Umar struck an 75 (50) unbeaten containing three sixes and seven boundaries as Quetta chased down Peshawar’s total of 155-4 with two balls to spare.
Having been put into bat first, Kamran Akmal gave Peshawar get an excellent start despite Mohammad Irfan dismissing Andre Fletcher early into the innings.
Kamran’s 49-run (36) was brought to an end by Mohammad Nawaz who also dismissed Kieron Pollard for just three.
However, Misbah-ul-Haq shored up Peshawar’s innings once again in the company of Liam Dawson with the former Islamabad United skipper’s unbeaten 49 (32) helping his side post 155-4.
Hasan Ali then gave Zalmi a roaring start with the ball by dismissing Ahmed Shehzad for a golden duck off the very first delivery of the innings.
Shane Watson and Rilee Rossouw got starts but were unable to push on further before Umar Akmal and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed took control of Quetta’s innings.
Umar brought up his half-century off just 35 deliveries in a controlled innings mixed with equal parts aggression and sensible rotation of the strike.
Sarfraz’s 37-run knock was ended by the excellent Wahab Riaz who finished with figures of 2-18 and in the process became the first bowler to bring up 50 PSL wickets.
Umar, though, continued t march on and finished off the game in the last over with a delightful six off Pollard.
Peshawar Zalmi: 155-4 (20 overs)
Kamran Akmal: 49 (36)
Misbah-ul-Haq: 49 not out (32)
Quetta Gladiators: 161-4 (19.4 overs)
Kamran Akmal: 75 not out (50)
Wahab Riaz: 2-18 (four overs)
2017 champions Peshawar Zalmi are eyeing their second PSL title under the leadership of the West Indies all-rounder Darren Sammy. Led by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, Quetta are bidding to win their maiden PSL crown after falling at the last hurdle on two previous occasions.
Who will come out on top in the battle between Sammy and Sarfraz’s men? Follow the ball-by-ball action from Dubai below to find out.