Pallekele, March 9: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has attempted to shield his erring wicket Kamran Akmal from a barrage of criticism following his shockingly poor performance in Pakistan's match against New Zealand on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old Akmal was guilty of pulling two horror blunders which allowed Ross Taylor to escape on nought and eight before the batsman smashed an unbeaten 131 off 124 balls.
"Kamran has won lots of matches for Pakistan in the past, he is a very talented cricketer, and I think we are at a stage where we shouldn't panic. There are other players who are not performing - it's not only Kamran," said Afridi.
New Zealand's 110-run win was Pakistan's first defeat in the tournament and prompted calls for Akmal's younger brother Umar to be handed the gloves for the remaining group games against Zimbabwe and Australia.
That would leave Kamran to play as a specialist batsman, even being promoted to open.
Umar, who kept wicket in three Twenty20 internationals and a one-dayer last year, was seen practicing keeping in the team's net session on Thursday.
Kamran's lapses allowed New Zealand to post a challenging 302-7 in Tuesday's game, after putting on a whopping 127 runs off the last 8 overs with Taylor scoring 62 runs the last 16 balls he faced.
But Afridi was averse to the idea of introducing changes in the line-up and where the wicket-keeper is concerned.
"If we make several changes we can face problems in future matches, so we will see if Kamran plays the next game or not. From my side, I think we should give Kamran confidence. He is a good player and we expect that he will do better."
However, Afridi said he was considering of giving Kamran a chance to open the batting as Pakistan continue to face problems at the top of the order. In conclusion, Afridi stressed that Pakistan, who face Zimbabwe on Monday, should not panic as they are still well-placed to reach the quarterfinals.