West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has single-handedly destroyed bowling attacks and torn apart the opposition with his presence at the crease.
His form at the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) has been exceptional but Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal is confident of taking him on as the two teams play their opening match at the ICC Champions Trophy on June 7.
Ajmal, speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing training camp at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium (ACS), is specifically targeting Gayle, who has rocked the IPL stage as he hit a century in just 30 deliveries during the course of his 66-ball 175 against Pune.
“Gayle is in phenomenal form and hitting well,” said Ajmal. “But I’m also the world’s number one bowler by the grace of God. I am putting in a lot of hard work and I’m confident of doing well against him. I am assessing the strength and weaknesses of all the top batsmen with the help videos, and training accordingly.”
With the batsmen getting an advantage of fielding restrictions as per the new rules in One-Day International (ODI) cricket, Ajmal is not worried about bowling the explosive batsman.
The spinner added that a ‘good bowler’ would be able to play a vital role in the mega event.
“In England conditions where pitches are batter-friendly, any spinner who bowls well will get good results.”
Ajmal, who had an ordinary run in the five-match ODI series against South Africa, said he was looking forward to improving his show.
“Good and bad days are part of a cricketer’s career. Many feel I didn’t do well in South Africa but I think otherwise. However, I am training hard to play a key role for my team.”
The spinner, who suffered from pain in the lower abdomen, said he has recovered from the injury.
“I have passed my fitness test and also reduced 5kg on the doctors’ advice. I continued the workout after the South Africa tour and I feel much better now.”
Ajmal added that the players were fully focused as they target the Champions Trophy title.
“We are training hard and it was a good decision by the board to hold the camp in Abbottabad. We are getting similar conditions those of England. This will be the last edition of the Champions Trophy and the team is determined to return with the title.”
Batsmen test muscles, tail-enders bat
On the fourth day of the training camp, the team management divided the players in two groups – batsmen and bowlers.
All the top-order batsmen underwent physical training at the Army’s PT School under a Pakistan Cricket Board trainer.
However, the bowlers worked on improving their batting as team management looks to make efforts to get contributions from tail-enders.
Four separate tracks were used to prepare them where they faced aspiring bowlers to sharpen their batting skills.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.