Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal admitted that his preparations were marked with emphasis on bowling to left-handers as he ripped through the England batting line-up on the opening day of the 1st Test in Dubai.
Ajmal claimed a career-best seven for 55 in the England innings as the tourists slumped to 43 for five before managing to reach 192 courtesy wicket-keeper Matt Prior’s 70. In reply, Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar took Pakistan to 42 without loss at stumps.
The off-spinner, who was the talking point before the series as he claimed to have a mystery ball up his sleeve, troubled the England batsmen, trapping five of his victims leg-before and rattling the stumps of another. The 34-year-old said he was not finished, promising more tricks were to come after introducing England to his ‘teesra’.
“The pitch wasn’t turning and I just tried to bowl at middle stump,” Ajmal told Sky Sports News. “I’m working very hard to improve against left-handers. They [the teesras] will be coming in the next few innings and I bowled a few of them today. I’m very pleased that my best bowling figures have come against England. My aim is to bag the man-of -the-series award.”
While Ajmal celebrated a superb performance that left the England batsmen perplexed, Prior said the pitch had no demons and insisted that it was a ‘good surface’.
“It was a pretty good batting surface,” said Prior. “We have been in this position before and fought back and there is no reason why we can’t do it again.
“Any spin bowler who spins both ways is tricky. Ajmal’s wrist is pretty quick when he delivers the ball so it’s pretty difficult to pick him at times and that obviously plays on a batsman’s mind but we have to deal with him a lot better than we did today.”
Prior also praised Graeme Swann, who made 34 and stuck around with the wicket-keeper to add a valuable 57 for the eighth wicket after they were reduced to 94 for seven.
A slideshow of Ajmal’s performance can be viewed here.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012.
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