One probably has to date back to Imtiaz Ahmed in the early 50s to find a Pakistani wicket-keeper who doubled up as an accomplished batsman. In Moin Khan and Rashid Latif, Kamran Akmal’s much-rotated predecessors, Pakistan too followed the sport-wide trend of specialists behind the stumps with average batting ability. The arrival of Adam Gilchrist bucked the trend, and Kamran became Pakistan’s own wicket-keeper batsman. Still, doubts are often raised over Akmal’s ability with the glove, in contrast to his assured batting prowess. It rightly indicates towards Akmal primarily being a batsman who was later augmented to a glove-man.
Into just his third Test inning during his debut tour to Zimbabwe in 2002, Kamran Akmal notched his first international half-century. Only in early 2005 against West Indies was Akmal’s batting given additional exposure, sent as an opening partner to Imran Nazir to face West Indies. A century ensued, Akmal’s career-first, and growing doubts over his shoddy wicket-keeping were set aside. Constant pressure to perform well with the bat as to find grace with his keeping shortcomings helped Akmal to 5 international tons between November 2005 and January 2006. He played his first World Cup in 2007, in part of Pakistan’s poor showing at the Caribbean.
Riding on that purple patch between late 2005 and early 2006, Akmal’s form deteriorated, in a slump that witnessed only 2 additional centuries in ODI and Tests each from 2006 to mid-2010. But his knack of scoring runs in quick time saw Kamran’s inclusion in the prolific Pakistani T20 side, helping his team to the T20 World Cup win in 2009. During the tournament, improvements were also evident in his keeping evidenced by his 4 stumpings against Netherlands. After two decades shifting keeping duties, Akmal’s stability behind the sticks is a welcome change for Pakistan.