Umar Akmal can make ODI comeback after strong performance in Pakistan Super League. Injury of Mohammad Hafeez in a PSL match has vacated a place in middle order for Green Shirts. Hafeez is out of action for at least two months after the hand injury. Haris Sohail has recovered from a long injury and good performance in PSL can help him stake claim. Timely full recovery can keep Mohammad Hafeez in the mix as Pakistan will want experienced batsman for Cricket World Cup 2019 and other ODI cricket series.
PSL 2019 has proved successful for Umar Akmal, who is second leading scorer with 201 runs from six innings for Quetta Gladiators. Pakistan batting sensation Babar Azam has also collected same number of total runs in PSL 4 from six matches for Karachi Kings. New Zealand keeper-batman Luke Ronchi tops the chart of most runs, with 224 from seven innings for Islamabad United.
Pakistan will have long build-up leading to CWC 2019. Pakistan will host Australia in United Arab Emirates for a 5-match ODI series, from 22nd to 31st March 2019. Men in Green will head over to England for cricket series comprising 1 T20I ad 5 ODIs in May 2019. Pakistan will then play practice matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh on 24 and 25th May 2019. Green Shirts will start their CWC 2019 campaign against West Indies on 31st May 2019.
Umar Akmal has scored 3044 runs in ODIs at average of 34.59 with 2 centuries and 20 fifties to date. He was once touted as the next big thing in Pakistan cricket. He is top 12th most runs achiever with a total of 1690 runs from 77 innings, including 8 fifties. He drew comparisons with Virat Kohli in his prime. He had last played for Pakistan in ODI format during Australia series in January 2017. An average of 50.25 at a strike rate of 135.81 means that mar Akmal is in good form in PSL 2019 edition.
Pakistan chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said: “There are a few options for us to replace Hafeez, though. Umar Akmal is doing well, we have players in middle-order, we have Hussain Talat who went to South Africa. I wish Hafeez gets fit otherwise we have other options. Umar has performed well so far and we will definitely consider him. It’s a good thing that such tournaments [PSL] have these benefits and you can include them in Pakistan team. An experienced player who has played for us before and is in form, it will be good.”