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September 26, 2009

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Pakistan banks on Umar to end jinx

PAKISTAN is banking on its young batting sensation Umar Akmal to help rewrite the record books when it meets India in a crunch Champions Trophy match in South Africa today.

Pakistan has a poor track record against India in the Champions Trophy, recording just one victory against its neighbor when it won by three wickets during the previous edition of the tournament in 2004 at England.

"The day I was announced in the 15-member squad (for the Champions Trophy) I was confident that if be given a chance in the final 11 we will take the trophy to Pakistan," Akmal told the official International Cricket Council Website.

Umar, the 19-year-old brother of Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran, made an impressive start to international cricket last month when he scored a half century followed by a century against Sri Lanka in a limited-overs series.

He has scored 233 runs in five one-day internationals with an impressive average of 77.66.

When the middle-order batsmen flopped against an under-strength West Indies last Wednesday, younger Akmal's unbeaten 41 guided Pakistan to victory in its opening Champions Trophy match.

Akmal's confident knock has impressed former test cricketers Ramiz Raja and Aamir Sohail, who urged the team's senior batsmen to hasten their retirement from international cricket.

"It's time the senior batsmen should say good bye," Raja said. "They looked the novices while Akmal batted with much more maturity."

Akmal said he was not feeling pressure to perform against the likes of Indian batting greats Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, and was keenly looking forward to the day/night match at SuperSport Park.

"I have been watching Sachin playing on television, but when I will go inside the circle (ground) it will be competitive cricket," Akmal said.

"I always play positive cricket and have not taken any pressure in whatever little international cricket I have played," he added. "It will be no different against India."


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