Pakistan news January 16, 2015

'Difficult to make combination without Ajmal' - Mushtaq

Mushtaq Ahmed: 'We were used to Saeed Ajmal, he's our legend and has been number one bowler, and it's very difficult to make a combination without him' © AFP

Pakistan's bowling line-up has been built around offspin since World Cup 2011, with one man in particular, Saeed Ajmal, claiming a majority of their wickets. However, the illegal bowling action suspensions handed out to him and Mohammad Hafeez have meant Pakistan have had to rejig their plans with the ball, going into World Cup 2015. That, according to bowling consultant Mushtaq Ahmed, has made things "difficult".

"Unfortunately you all know what happened to Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez, we got stuck," Mushtaq said in Lahore. "So when you don't have a thing which you require, then you have to rely on other things. And you can't rely on a young offspinner in such a big event. I think whatever resources we have, we have to trust and believe in them.

"We were used to Saeed Ajmal, he's our legend and has been our number one bowler, and it's very difficult to make a combination without him. But if you remember the scenario when Waqar Younis returned home due to injury before the 1992 World Cup … so this shouldn't be a problem. I will give credit to Saeed Ajmal, he always says teams don't win because of individuals, teams win if we play as a united team. We will feel his absence but the new players have to play their role and if we play as a unit I am hopeful we can deliver."

Legspinner Mushtaq, who was part of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup squad, said pitches in Australia are likely to help legspinners considerably and they will prove to be a wicket-taking option in the showpiece event. "If you look back, legspinners have been very successful in Australia. I have my personal experience; I have toured five-six times to Australia and have a very successful ratio bowling over there. The way Yasir Shah and Shahid Afridi have been bowling, I think they will make a difference for Pakistan as we do get bounce on the wickets of Australia and when a legspinner gets bounce, he becomes a wicket-taking option."

He said that he, along with head coach Waqar, was trying to develop belief in the team. "We don't have the ball in our hand, but we have lot of belief. If we believe that we can win, then our belief will be shifted onto the players. Waqar Younis is trying to develop this culture, whatever you have to do, you have to have belief. We are developing this culture."

With Ajmal's absence and Hafeez unavailability as a bowler, middle-order batsman Haris Sohail could chip in with his left-arm spin, but Mushtaq said a lot could not be expected of him, despite his recent showing against New Zealand in the UAE, where he took six wickets in five ODIs.

"We can't rely on Haris Sohail, if I talk honestly, but the temperament he showed against New Zealand … he bowled very well in 10 overs. Our regular spinners were giving 50 runs and he was giving 40 and taking three wickets against a team that was in form. He has improved a lot, I believe in him and as a spin-bowling coach I believe that he will do very well because he has very good temperament."

Pakistan have completed a five-day camp and are now set to leave for New Zealand, where they will play a series of ODIs in the lead up to the World Cup.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

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