Starting as the underdogs, Pakistan shocked England, the then number one Test side, with a 3-0 whitewash in the UAE last year.
Almost 20 months on, Misbahul Haq’s side faces a similar task as it prepares for a series against South Africa — the current top-ranked Test side in the world.
Saeed Ajmal, who was the chief tormentor behind England’s humiliation with a tally of 24 wickets in that series, is targeting a similar performance to avenge the 3-0 whitewash during the South Africa home series.
“Our position was the same when we countered England last year,” said Ajmal. They [England] were the number one team when we whitewashed them. We are targeting the same against South Africa in the upcoming series.”
With Pakistan planning to exploit the home series with a spin trap, Ajmal was confident of producing similar results along with Abdur Rehman, as both shared 43 wickets against England.
“I enjoy the onus on me but it will not be like that. We have a good bowling combination. Rehman is in good form and we will go with a bowling combination and a plan to strike to contain runs like we did before.
“We have the potential to bowl out South Africa twice. My target in the series is to pick the best player’s title.”
‘Doosra my main strength’
Ajmal stated that he had no plans to introduce a new delivery style, as he believed his focus remained on the varieties he possessed.
The spinner insisted the ‘doosra’ remained his strength when he was asked if it bothered him that a lot of batsmen have learned to play the delivery.
“Everybody knows [Dale] Steyn gets wickets on his out-swinger but he continues to get wickets,” said Ajmal. “Similarly, the doosra is my strength and I am getting 70% of my wickets through it.”
He also hoped Pakistan’s batting would click in the upcoming series. “Misbah is in good form while Younus [Khan] has also been in good touch. I am hopeful our batting will perform well.”
Meanwhile, Asad Shafiq said he was working hard to overcome his bad patch.
“Good and bad performances are part of the game,” he said. “I am working hard to regain form. We are well acclimatised with conditions in the UAE and I hope it will be an improved show from my side.”
Practice game to begin today
A three-day practice match between Chief Minister’s Eleven led by Pakistan skipper Misbah and the Chairman PCB Eleven captained by Umar Amin will begin today in Lahore.
The match is important for players and selectors as it will help determine the squad for the two-match series against South Africa starting on October 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2013.