The fear in the opposition’s eyes and the mountain of expectations placed on him are the motivating factors behind his success, said Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Ajmal, who has been considered as Pakistan’s trump card prior to every assignment in the last couple of years, is currently with the team playing against Australia and has prompted them to make ‘special plans’ on countering his threat on the UAE pitches.
Rewarded with a place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Team of the Year – the only Pakistani in the list – Ajmal said the pressure to live up to expectations has not taken a toll, but, instead, motivated him to do better.
“Expectations from fans as well as teammates motivate me a lot,” said Ajmal in an interview.
“Whenever I’ve heard of being a trump card for the team, I aim to perform even better. The expectation puts a bit of pressure but this motivates me to do better. I know batsmen fear facing me and it makes me happy.”
‘Not dejected on missing out the ICC awards’
Meanwhile, several former cricketers, including chief selector Iqbal Qasim, raised concerns after Ajmal was omitted from the shortlisted candidates for the top three International Cricket Council (ICC) awards.
While he was included in the ICC Test Team of the Year, his name was a notable exclusion from the ICC Cricketer of the Year, ICC Test Cricketer of the Year and ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year, despite an impressive performance during the 12-month qualifying period.
However, Ajmal said he was not dejected.
“I was happy when they selected me for the awards. But if I got removed it’s no issue. I will improve my performance with hard work to win the award next year.”
‘Wicket tally not the target for Ajmal’
The 34-year old, who surpassed the 100-wicket mark in the opening One-Day International against Australia in Sharjah, said that his aim was to be the best in the world regardless of how much hard work it took.
“All I want is to become the number one bowler in all formats. My aim is to give 100% in my performance and help the team win. I don’t want anything else.”
Commenting on the upcoming World Twenty20, Ajmal said his desire was to compensate for the loss against Australia in the previous edition of the tournament, where the spinner fell victim to Michael Hussey.
“A lot of people blame me for that defeat. But it happens in cricket and I am looking forward to the coming event. I am aiming for a good show and a play leading role in my team’s triumph.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2012.