Ajmal eager to succeed on batting tracks
Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal has been working closely with the team's video analyst as he prepares to target the opposition's batsmen, including Chris Gayle, in the Champions Trophy in England. Ajmal said he was expecting batting pitches during the tournament but said his variations would be effective during the tournament.
"I know they [teams] plan against me," Ajmal told reporters on the fourth day of the training camp in Abbottabad. "And I am also planning against them. Although I haven't added any new variation this time, I am looking at their videos and planning accordingly. Spinners have an important role in all formats of the game and those like me, who bowl in death overs, have to work extra hard to counter the batsmen.
"We are targeting players like Chris Gayle, who plays so well in Twenty20," Ajmal said. "He [Gayle] may be a good batsman but I am also the number one spinner (in ODI rankings) and look forward to dismissing him quickly and seizing the advantage."
The specialist batsmen skipped the fourth day of the camp while the bowlers had an extended batting session. The batsmen, instead, opted to have physical training sessions at the Army PT school within the Pakistan Military Academy, where the team is currently staying. At the ground, Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Irfan had individual batting sessions in the nets with assistant coach Shahid Aslam.
"Tail-enders weren't given a proper run with the bat in the past but now coaches insist on giving bowlers ample training so that they can stay at the crease," Ajmal said. "In case the top order collapses, a tail-ender must have the ability to score 20-odd runs and share a stand of at least 70 to 80 runs."
The PCB has developed different types of pitches, including a grassy one at the Abbottabad Stadium, to give the batsmen a look into the conditions during the Champions Trophy. Ajmal also said that Pakistan were preparing for different kinds of tracks, in spite of the fact that most limited-over tournaments featured batting pitches.
"I think 90% of the pitches in the world are batting tracks while green tops are only 10 to 15%," Ajmal said. "We are preparing ourselves for everything. This will be the last Champions Trophy and hopefully we can win this."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here