Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal looks likely to be the team’s trump card again.
While the right-handed bowler will be surrounded by Umar Gul and Abdur Rehman in an impressive Pakistan attack, Ajmal will still remain key to the team’s chances of keeping their impressive recent record over Sri Lanka intact.
Ajmal, who is number two in both One-Day Internationals (ODI) and Tests rankings for bowlers, has also eyed the top spot and vowed to outfox Sri Lanka in the upcoming series that begins next month.
The two sides contest two Twenty20s, three ODIs and three Tests with memories of the last series, which Pakistan clinched in the UAE last year, sending out a reminder to Sri Lanka to quickly improve their game. Ajmal said that while Sri Lanka will enjoy the home advantage this time around, his plan remained simple.
“I want to be the number-one bowler,” Ajmal told reporters in Lahore. “I have a lot of variety and plan on using it to trouble the Sri Lanka batsmen.
The conditions will be hot there and both teams will have to rely heavily on the spinners. I intend to take full advantage of that and bag three man-of-the match awards [in the Tests].”
Aiming to contribute with the bat
While batsmen have been puzzled at Ajmal’s variation of pace and spin, the 34-year-old is also eyeing an improved show with the bat. Gone are the days when the number 10 and 11 would contribute ‘handy’ runs. These days the tail is expected to contribute and substantially.
Given this, Ajmal, too, is aiming to contribute with the willow. “I used to be afraid of batting. But now I’m used to it and intend to contribute.”
Ajmal has featured in 20 Tests, becoming the country’s quickest bowler to cross the 100-wicket mark. He has a half-century to his name in the format and a career-best of 33 in ODIs.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2012.