'We won't put Ajmal under pressure' - Waqar
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has said there will not be pressure on Saeed Ajmal to make an immediate impact. The offspinner is set to play against Bangladesh in the first ODI, his first international game since August 30 last year.
"He is on the tour so we have expectations," Younis said in Mirpur. "We won't put him under pressure by telling him that you have been a match winner so come out and deliver the same. We know he is capable of delivering the goods for Pakistan and I am sure he will."
After being reported for a suspect action on August 9, Ajmal was banned from bowling a month later and underwent extensive remedial work on his action, with help from Saqlain Mushtaq. Ajmal was finally cleared to bowl in February this year, but did not play the World Cup.
He played a couple of games for Pakistan A against Kenya in December last year as part of his rehabilitation programme, and took 1 for 45 in the practice match in Fatullah on Wednesday.
Younis credited Ajmal for reworking his action and said he has showed character to make a comeback. He was also happy with Ajmal's spell against the BCB XI, but didn't want to rush into judgment. Younis was confident Ajmal would return to his usual self soon enough, and wanted to give him ample time in the middle.
"He worked really hard in the last eight months. Coming out of his situation, it needs some character. He has proved himself that he is still good enough that's why we picked him for all three formats. He bowled quite well yesterday. I was very impressed with his outcome. It was his first 50-over game after a long time. I think to judge him at the moment is going to be tough but his experience and character will help him to come good for Pakistan."
Ajmal has taken 12 wickets at an average of 18.08 in seven ODIs against Bangladesh. The hosts' stand-in captain Shakib Al Hasan questioned whether Ajmal would be as effective as he was earlier.
"He is coming back after a long time. We have no idea whether the Saeed Ajmal of old will be playing against us," Shakib said. "After such an incident, the effectiveness doesn't always remain within a bowler. He can definitely do better than before or he may not. But we can tell after playing against him tomorrow."
Shakib said that like Ajmal, his Kolkata Knight Riders team-mate Sunil Narine had made a comeback in this season's IPL after reworking his action. "Sunil played in the IPL after the Champions League last year. A bowler will be a little different after coming back from such a long gap. Those who have gone through these situations would know how it is to return from, for example, a long injury lay-off. We would definitely want him to bowl with less confidence."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84