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Performance uppermost on Akmal’s mind

cricket Updated: Sep 25, 2009 01:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

It was one of the low-key clashes of the tournament, but as can often be the case, the Pakistan-West Indies encounter helped unearth fresh heroes. For 26-year-old Gavin Tonge, the medium-pacer from Antigua, just playing for the West Indies would have been a huge event. To go on and shine like he did will lift the spirits of a team that has frequently been described as second string.

If Tonge's rippling spell of 9-3-18-4 reduced Pakistan to 76 for 5 and made their lowly 133 seem more threatening than it was, it set the stage perfectly for the 19-year-old Umar Akmal, brother of wicketkeeper Kamran, to show that he was here to stay.

Akmal put together a nerveless and entertaining 41 and walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award after shepherding his team to a five-wicket win. "When we were struggling a bit, the coach and captain gave me a boost, they told me to bat positively," said Akmal. "I did that and it worked. I am delighted with the way I batted."

For Tonge too, Wednesday's returns could signal the beginning of things to come if he stays on track. "I was feeling good today, good to bowl 20 overs straight because it was my type of pitch," said Tonge. "Coming in, the rhythm was perfect. A wicket with my first delivery (Imran Nazir bowled), I really liked it --- it was my first ball in the Champs Trophy."

Tonge was also quick to take umbrage at his team being called second string. "Each guy has performed to be here, and we are here to compete."