Pakistan news July 31, 2013

'We have won back respect' - Ajmal


Following a disappointing Champions Trophy campaign in which Pakistan failed to win a single game, they bounced back in the West Indies, winning the ODI and T20 series. Reflecting on the tours on arrival in Pakistan, senior players urged fans to savour the team's recent success and forget the past.

"We didn't give our best in the Champions Trophy," Saeed Ajmal said on arrival in Lahore. "But we have won back the respect and had a strong comeback. They (West Indies) were playing at home and were stronger and it wasn't easy to beat them as you have seen how close the games were. But we worked hard, every player did well and the collective efforts led to the team's win."

When put under the spot by a journalist who stated with a touch of cynicism that the victories came against an underperforming West Indies team, Ajmal smiled and said, "Do appreciate us sometimes".

Four players - Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad remained in the West Indies to feature in the Caribbean Premier League. After losing 3-2 to South Africa earlier this year, Pakistan beat Scotland and Ireland in closely fought contests before heading to the Champions Trophy. Pakistan bounced back strongly in the West Indies, taking the ODIs 3-1 and sweeping the T20s 2-0, maintaining their unbeaten ODI series record in the Caribbean in the last 20 years.

Shahid Afridi too spoke on the significance of the victory. "This was a much-needed win," Afridi said in Karachi. "We played well as a team and won. It was needed after the performances in the Champions Trophy and South Africa. We wanted this win and I am sure that this will help improve the image of the team as well as the players. When you play well it erases the bad memories."

When asked about the allegations of fixing in the West Indies ODI series leveled by the Mail on Sunday, Afridi said he was unaware of the report. "Who says so? Where has it appeared?" Afridi asked. "I don't know, really. But I must say savor this win when you have done well and forget other things."

After their Champions Trophy exit, Pakistan dropped experienced players like Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal and opted for youth. Their batting woes did resurface for a while but they closed out the ODI series with two impressive chases, led by their captain Misbah-ul-Haq. Umar Amin and Haris Sohail did well with the bat, while the 34-year old left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar had a dream debut in the first T20. Umar Akmal marked his return after a year with 175 runs at 58.33 in the ODIs. He was relatively safe behind the stumps - save for missing a run-out that helped West Indies tie the third match - effecting ten dismissals including two stumpings.

Ajmal, who picked up 10 wickets including 8 in the ODI series, praised the contributions of the youngsters. "We have seen a lot of youngsters coming in and we have given them the maximum opportunities in this series. I am hopeful about our future and backing them to stand on their own feet. We are looking forward to keeping up winning the momentum."

Pakistan next assignment is an away tour to Zimbabwe for two Tests, three ODI and one Twenty20, a visit that was postponed from December last year. Zimbabwe Cricket is yet to release the itinerary, but ESPNcricinfo understands that Pakistan are expected to depart in the third week of August. Pakistan will then host, in the UAE, South Africa in October-November followed by Sri Lanka in December.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Karthikeyan on August 1, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    Winning against WI is great. Irrespective of rankings, WI is great team to beat that too in their home conditions. India, SL and WI tri series wasnot easy outing for SL and India against WI. They need to fight till last league to assure WI out of tournament. Also after the tri series loss, WI would have tried too much to win against Pak. So Pak can be proud of beating WI. Out of top 8 ODI teams, any team can win against any on their day.

  • hibbatur on August 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    @Subhash Venugopalan : I agree with you, good analysis.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Whoever thinks that beating a 7th ranked team (West Indies) is nothing should also know that the winning team is ranked 6th (Pakistan).

  • Rayhan on August 1, 2013, 5:44 GMT

    It's great that Pak won, but this is a weak WI side. Theyw ere just recently beaten by SL and India very easily in their backyard, so to think we have done something major is a fallacy. For Pakistan, Umar Amin scored in one game only before throwing his wicket away. He does have talent, but it needs nurturing otherwise the stronger teams will just pick him up. Asad Ali was very average, he's slow and doesn't seem to have the street smart cricketers' ability - should not be persisted with. Haris was better than Umar in my opinion, but he needs more outings. He tends to play away from the body which will get him in trouble as soon as he faces quality bowlers. Asad Shafiq was again dropped after a couple of games. Out of the current batsmen he has the best technique. If he can improve his strike rate, he can be the anchor of the team when Misbah retires. Positive all in all, but definitely nothing to be very proud of.

  • Android on August 1, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    Champions Trophy is indeed history. And i agree with the statement of Shahid Aafridi to savor the recent success acheived in West Indies. One should not forget that West Indies is the current World T20 champion and defeating them 3-1 in the ODI series and 2-0 in the T20 series that too in their own backyard? If this is not satisfying enough then nothing ever will. Respect is indeed won....and for those who are still not satisfied....well then i guess somethings are better left undone.

  • Amjad on August 1, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    Well the bowlers always had respect and most recently even pity that they never got any support whatsoever from batsmen. If a bowling unit that can defend anything between 200 to 230 is not just a good bowling unit but THE best there is on this planet and acknowledged by all. Ajmal the magician is the best spinner in the world and let the english whinge some more but truth be told. Fast bowlers like Irfan, Junaid not far off from the rest like anderson, morkel. Steyn is a different category though!

  • Agam on August 1, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Respect for winning against West Indies ? yeah right. Well what more we expect, u can compete against teams of ur own caliber. All remember how Pakistan was treated by top sides in CT.

  • Hakoon on August 1, 2013, 0:16 GMT

    Mr. Ajmal - get real man, I mean yes our team has improved from the disasterous show at the CT but by beating a 7th ranked Windies team (now ranked 8th) in one ODI series by no means gives us respect. The top teams like Eng, Ind, SL, SA and AUS expect to win these kind of series without any serious hurdles. Real respect will come when we see how you perform against SA later this year, Pak have yet to beat SA in an ODI series in history. That would be some accomplishment.

    Besides all that this tour was pretty fruitful as we FINALLY tried out some new players and although some didnt perform that great yet (like Harris Sohail, Asad Ali and hammad Azam) i hope that they are persisted with in the Zimbabwe series to atleast give them a fair shot of being in the team. InshAllah they will perform well!

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Pakistan should use the Zimbabwe series to maintain the momentum and strengthen some key positions rather than too much experimentation. Umar Akmal may not be a long term wicket keeping option for 50 overs game, hence would be a good opportunity to give Rizwan a place with the gloves. Also, a lower order all rounder is a must, hence they should give Hammad Azam an extended run. Wahab Riaz should be dropped and Babar Azam given a chance. The team should be :

    ODI : Nasir Jamshed, M Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Mohd Rizwan (wk), Hammad Azam, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohd Irfan. Reserves : Asad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Aizaz Cheema

    T20 : Ahmed Shahzad, M Hafeez (c), Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Hammad Azam, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Asad Ali, Mohd Irfan. Reserves : Zulfiqar Babar, Junaid Khan, Babar Azam.

  • liaqat on July 31, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Ummm winning from Westindies doesn't merit to much mr Ajmal,

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