Pakistan likely to call up additional wicketkeeper

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kamran Akmal's continuing descent behind the stumps has forced the Pakistan team management to call for another wicketkeeper to boost their squad for the remainder of the current tour against India. Though not officially confirmed yet, Sarfraz Ahmed, the promising young wicketkeeper, will be the man going to India.

Akmal has had a shocking ODI series behind the stumps in India: he has dropped four catches in three matches, including a reprieve to Sourav Ganguly off the first ball of the third ODI in Kanpur. Sadly for Pakistan and Akmal, it is merely a continuation of the poor form that has plagued him over the last 18 months, where he has spilled chances regularly in England, South Africa and at home.

The selectors were keen on sticking with him through the India tour, given his experience and the high-profile nature of the contest, but so fragile have his performances become, they have been left with no other option.

Akmal, however, will remain in India and officials stress that the selection is of a back-up, not a replacement. Akmal has, according to officials, aggravated a hand injury, which has both hampered his performances and now requires rest.

"Akmal played with injury today [in Kanpur] and it worsened, so the team decided to ask for an additional wicketkeeper,"

Javed Akhtar, the team's media co-ordinator, told.

"The management requested the board for another wicketkeeper,"

an official told.

"Akmal will stay on in India. He has a problem in his right hand and it has prevented him for doing his job. So we have decided to send Sarfraz, not as a replacement but as a back-up to Akmal."

Sarfraz is highly-regarded in domestic circles. He was captain of the Under-19 team that won the World Cup in Sri Lanka last year and in his debut first-class season for Karachi, impressed behind and in front of the stumps. This season he has progressed: he performed admirably in the two four-day matches for Pakistan A against Australia A in September.

Having joined Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) this season, he has put together a good start to the domestic season, with 15 victims in three matches and a couple of fifties for added measure.

"We've had our eye on Sarfraz for a while now. He is a promising young wicketkeeper, he can also bat a bit and is doing well this season,"

said the official.

"This is a good opportunity for him."

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