Akmal junior waiting for his time to come

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lucknow:Being the younger sibling of Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, Umer Akamal understands he has a surname to live up to but he is completely unperturbed by the expectations.

The right handed batsman, who started playing the game at an age of nine, is waiting in the wings to break into the Under-19 Pakistan squad before making it to the seniors side.

''I have been playing club level cricket for sometime now and confident of sporting the 'star' (Pakistan cricket board mascot) by the end of this year,'' a confident Umer told UNI.

Umer was here as part of Lahore's 17-member Youngster Cricket Club (YCC) squad to play a five-match youth cricket One-day series against Lucknow Cricket Academy (LCA).

LCA lifted the trophy beating the visitors 3-2. The final match was played yesterday.

The part-time off-spinner admitted the kind of media focus on him was due to his brother Kamran.

''All said and done, I want people to recognise my talent and evaluate my performance without drawing parallels with Kamran Bhai,'' he quipped.

Nonetheless, Umer conceded that expert cricket guidance was always at his disposal with the fiesty Pakistan keeper giving useful tips to his brother whenever he is in Lahore, ''although it is rare these days due to his cricket commitments.'' ''He dotes on me and wants me to complete my studies well along with cricket...Bhai is more than willing to accompany me to the field and help me get over flaws that he perceives in my game,'' Umer, who celebrated his 16th birthday on March 25, chuckled.

Apart from Kamran and Umer, another Akmal sibling Adnan is also a cricketer among seven brothers.

This was Umer's third visit to India. First, he came to play a school-level match in 2002.

''The second time, I came with my cousin to watch a cricket match featuring India and Pakistan, since my brother was playing in it,'' the cricketer gushed.

Formed in early 1940s, YCC is one of the oldest cricket clubs of Pakistan and counts former Indian great late Lala Amarnath as one of its players. YCC has played club level cricket in Dubai and Nairobi.

Impressed with the Indian hospitality, especially Lucknow, Umer said he felt at home here. ''The food, people, language and architecture all remind me of my hometown in Pakistan,'' he said.

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