Sri Lanka v Pakistan, 1st ODI, Pallekele June 6, 2012

'World-class' Ajmal key for Pakistan

35

Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, expects offspinner Saeed Ajmal and allrounder Shahid Afridi to be Pakistan's key players in the five-ODI series that begins in Pallekele on Thursday. He said Ajmal and Afridi were much-improved cricketers; Ajmal because of his controlled variations and Afridi because of his enhanced bowling.

"What makes him a world-class bowler is his variation and control," Jayawardene said of Ajmal. "You have the variation, it's always an added bonus, but the important thing is the control. Even Murali [Muttiah Muralitharan], why he was so successful was that he had the control. You create pressure on the batsmen. That's what Ajmal's been doing.

"Initially, when he came onto the scene, I don't think he had that kind of control even though he was bowling a couple of variations. The more he's played he has improved as a bowler. "

Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq concurred and said Ajmal was their "main bowler". "Whenever we need wickets, whenever we need to put pressure on the opposition, he just came and delivered. He is a really important member for us," Misbah said. "What's makes him so special is his variations, especially nowadays he bowls the doosra, a straight one, and a good offspin. He's got a very good temperament and he's got aggression, which normally spinners don't have."

Pakistan were superior in all departments when they beat Sri Lanka 4-1 in the UAE last November. Their dominance against Sri Lanka goes back farther, with eight wins in the previous ten matches. Misbah, however, wanted to look forward. "That kind of record builds your confidence a little bit but it's a new series and different conditions. You have to perform again from the start.

"It is better to take one game at a time to fulfill your roles as a team and try to play good cricket. First we have to focus on the first game, try to win that and play good cricket, then go game by game."

Jayawardene acknowledged Sri Lanka had struggled against Pakistan in recent times. "Pakistan's record against us speaks for itself; they have played much better cricket than us during the Asia Cup and even in the UAE. It's up to us to lift our game individually as well as a group and try and come up with game plans and execute them."

Pakistan and Sri Lanka came to Pallekele after drawing the Twenty20 series in Hambantota, where the pitches were not easy to bat on. The team batting first made middling scores and the team chasing was dismissed in the 90s in both matches. Jayawardene described the Pallakele pitch as "a very good wicket with lots of runs" and expected two good games. He did not rule himself out as an opener for the series with Tillakaratne Dilshan.

"We've got the option of me opening or [Upul] Tharanga. It's always good to have that option open and keep that flexibility to use against different opposition. It worked for us in Australia, we'll see how it goes."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rahulcricket007 on June 7, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    ajmal is currently world 's best spinner. but i don't know why english commentators keep talking swann as best spinner in the world .

  • tahir079 on June 7, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    The world have seen the magic of 2 WW (Wasim & Waqar) back in 90's and the is the time for the magic of 2 AA (Ajmal & Afridi) -

  • AMAZINGFAN on June 7, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    ajmal is certainly world class off spinner if there is anyone who can break murali's record it is ajmal but age is not in his favour.pity that a class bowler like ajmal played for pakistan so late.

  • SaeedKhanNiazi on June 7, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    @SyedAftab: Despite being raised in USA, I am perhaps one of the very few die hard fans of cricket, and in particular of Pakistan cricket, that exist on this continent lol. Having said that, I am and will always continue to support my home away from home. The message I was trying to get across and to answer your post as well is that Pakistan like every nation has faced and will continue to face these forms of delimmas and shortcomings. Yes they vary in the severity in terms of its negative impact based on their respective situation, but the fact of the matter is that there is no excuse for future problems. That is simply because this is part of the sports world in general. We need to develop despite the politics which is inevitable in sports. My last thoughts and comments, I enjoy cricket and because I am a big fan of Pakistan cricket, it is the reason why I do become a bit emotional as you may have noticed through my posts and it is also why I am very critical of them. Salamualakum.

  • on June 7, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Jayawardena should come down the order inorder to counter ajmal........in he mid-overs.......for this series only.......

  • on June 7, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    I think more than Ajmal, Afridi is the real danger..even in the last match we saw Ajmal bowled some doosras, but Afridi was unplayable..he's a great bowler.

  • on June 7, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    Jayawardene is right...Ajmal is the Key Bowler...so Buckle up Jayawardene...

  • on June 7, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Ajmal is a magician.........he is superior form of excellence

  • aftabalamrana on June 7, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    Please Pakistan............just dont play Imran Farhat!!!!!!

  • SyedAftab on June 7, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    @ Saeedkhan Niazi .. the situation of near future with lack of good players things is what Pak has already seen when Waqar, Wasim, Inzi, Saqlain, Afridi were out of sight after 2003. But the gap of Waqar n Wasim has not yet filled as compare to Saqlain & Inzi, they have been replaced by Ajmal and Yousuf/Mishab/Younis. Mohammad Aamir was becoming dangerous bowler but money and politics have played their game, so be easy, enjoy cricket, support paki cricket team in any circumstances. Win n loss is part of a game.

  • rahulcricket007 on June 7, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    ajmal is currently world 's best spinner. but i don't know why english commentators keep talking swann as best spinner in the world .

  • tahir079 on June 7, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    The world have seen the magic of 2 WW (Wasim & Waqar) back in 90's and the is the time for the magic of 2 AA (Ajmal & Afridi) -

  • AMAZINGFAN on June 7, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    ajmal is certainly world class off spinner if there is anyone who can break murali's record it is ajmal but age is not in his favour.pity that a class bowler like ajmal played for pakistan so late.

  • SaeedKhanNiazi on June 7, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    @SyedAftab: Despite being raised in USA, I am perhaps one of the very few die hard fans of cricket, and in particular of Pakistan cricket, that exist on this continent lol. Having said that, I am and will always continue to support my home away from home. The message I was trying to get across and to answer your post as well is that Pakistan like every nation has faced and will continue to face these forms of delimmas and shortcomings. Yes they vary in the severity in terms of its negative impact based on their respective situation, but the fact of the matter is that there is no excuse for future problems. That is simply because this is part of the sports world in general. We need to develop despite the politics which is inevitable in sports. My last thoughts and comments, I enjoy cricket and because I am a big fan of Pakistan cricket, it is the reason why I do become a bit emotional as you may have noticed through my posts and it is also why I am very critical of them. Salamualakum.

  • on June 7, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Jayawardena should come down the order inorder to counter ajmal........in he mid-overs.......for this series only.......

  • on June 7, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    I think more than Ajmal, Afridi is the real danger..even in the last match we saw Ajmal bowled some doosras, but Afridi was unplayable..he's a great bowler.

  • on June 7, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    Jayawardene is right...Ajmal is the Key Bowler...so Buckle up Jayawardene...

  • on June 7, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Ajmal is a magician.........he is superior form of excellence

  • aftabalamrana on June 7, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    Please Pakistan............just dont play Imran Farhat!!!!!!

  • SyedAftab on June 7, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    @ Saeedkhan Niazi .. the situation of near future with lack of good players things is what Pak has already seen when Waqar, Wasim, Inzi, Saqlain, Afridi were out of sight after 2003. But the gap of Waqar n Wasim has not yet filled as compare to Saqlain & Inzi, they have been replaced by Ajmal and Yousuf/Mishab/Younis. Mohammad Aamir was becoming dangerous bowler but money and politics have played their game, so be easy, enjoy cricket, support paki cricket team in any circumstances. Win n loss is part of a game.

  • johnathonjosephs on June 6, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    Ajmal and Afridi will be the main players that slow the Run Rate down. If Sri Lanka's bowling (especially death bowling) can fire, Pakistan will struggle

  • on June 6, 2012, 22:55 GMT

    I predict if Pakistan keep Imran Farhat out of the playing XI, they will win the series.

  • on June 6, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    I don't think SL will prepare turners because they realized their own spinners aren't that dangerous but their batting can't handle even the spin from AUS.

    Expecting flat tracks which is their advantage since their batsmen have brains and ours don't really..

  • umair_khan88 on June 6, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Ajmal is the man every player all over the countries admire him as the great spinner in the world today..since he came into the international cricket he wasn't that good but he has worked really hard and he has imporved very much year by year now i am confident he will demolish SL in this series....

  • SaeedKhanNiazi on June 6, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    Continued. Moreover, Pakistan's future as far as the newer and younger generation slowing filling in the soon to be vacant spots, seems very bleak and doesn't to promising. This of course is in regards to both departments. Most of our promising bowlers are prone to injuries and therefore do not receive ample time to develop their art. I do wish all the best for Pakistan's future, but we really have to come back to reality. Start looking at the near future as well and not just the current state. These seniors will soon leave having cemented their contribution to Pakistan's cricket, so our concern now is the newer generation to pick up where they left off and continue creating a legacy.

  • SaeedKhanNiazi on June 6, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    I agree with ProdigyB to a certain extent. Comparing them to Kenya and Zimbabwe is a bit harsh and unfair, considering Pakistan's current position. They do not belong at the bottom tier of internationally recognized cricket playing nations. But I have to say with the exception of Ajmal, every other bowler on the team really lacked consistency; I mean that in every sense of the word. Cheema is a bit overrated in my opinion. He bowls really expensive spells and when he does get some wickets, they really become irrelevant since they are overshadowed by the atrocious economic rate of his bowling which is almost always above 6 and times above 7 on certain occasions. Every time I see him come up to bowl. I expect at least a four in each of his overs. No control whatsoever, and even worse, he holds consistency in terms of bowling really expensive overs. We desperately need to grow out of this notion that we look up to Afridi and Ajmal. Their time is soon coming to an end.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on June 6, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    Pakistan currently have world,s best spinners. Ajmal, Afridi, Rehman and Hafeez are very skill full. I wish Amir was there as well but... anyways pakistan test side is very much settle but team selction of ODI,s and T20,s has been an issue. My odi team from available palyers would be.

    (1) Hafeez (2) Asad Shafeeq (3) younas Khan (4) Akmal (5) Misbah (6) Afridi (7) Sarfraz (8) Sohail Tanvir (9) Sami (10) Ajmal (11) Gul.

  • PakFan1209 on June 6, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    Ajmal and Afridi will be the key bowlers for pakistan both are world class and can destroy any teams line up weather they are playing in UAE or any where else. dont let imran farhat play in any match please!

  • hamza1982 on June 6, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Please Pakistan............just dont play Imran Farhat!!!!!!

  • on June 6, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    @ ProdigyB, look at all the teams in terms of total wickets taken by each team, specially in limited overs format, Pakistan has been pretty impressive. Pakistan has always had that department of bowling working for them. No matter if we have Amir and Asif or not. Gull has been Gul-dozing, Wahab riaz has been impressive, Junaid Khan has been a nice prospect and so is Aizaz Cheema. Pakistan has never been short of talent. Hammad Azam, Anwar Ali, Sohail Khan(150kmph bowler) and many other quicks are there in the domestic circuit waiting to earn the international cap. They have come in to the scene but were just not consistent enough to stay. Talent has never been an issue here. Its only team play which, at times gets to become a problem for this team. Players like Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Rana Naveed, Abdul Razzaq and Azher Mehmood have not been able to find a permanent spot as such. Do u doubt their talent? Azher was hopes for many indians when it came to win/loss in the IPL games.

  • Desihungama on June 6, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    What separates him from other spinners is to know when to bowl the doosra, a straight one, or a good offspin. He uses his variety intelligently which adds to the pressure.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on June 6, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    @prasanth, valid point but he has delivered high-level performances over the past two years consistently against Australia, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Bengladesh. Actually, the only team he hasn't had the chance to shine against is India, and I sincerely hope there are many opportunities for that in the future :) Of those good performances in the past two years, Pakistan has won test series against a large majority of those teams, and Ajmal has performed well in each and every series. However, I agree with you that he should be tested further in multiple international locations against a wider variety of quality batsmen.

  • smbhayi on June 6, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    I'm waiting, how Sammi perform this game. And I want 'X' factor Afridi's B00M BooM PaRtY....!!! Best of Luck!!!!!!

  • AlbertEinstein on June 6, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    Any bowler who can make Tendulya's legs shiver is worthy of being respected.

  • Nadeem1976 on June 6, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Ajmal as improved a lot in last two years. I hope he keep up the good work and try to put more pressure on bowler. Afridi and Ajmal combination is perfect in Sri lankan conditions.

    My biggest worry is pakistani batting, they did not bat well against england at all. This is the time to bat well too.

  • prasanth.kongati on June 6, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    @cricket_fan_1980 though not yet tested at international level i bet Sunil narine will easily compete with ajmal.

  • on June 6, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    saeed ajmal is the best spinner in the world today he is truly world class the finest example is when he single handedly destroyed england in uae pakistan beat england 3-0 !

  • ProdigyA on June 6, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    To be honest only two Pak players have been saving Pak from embarrasement Ajmal and Misbah. These two have been the majot contributors with bits n pieces from here and there otherwise with the rest of the guyz they are as good as Zim or Kenya. Pls stop Pak bowling is the best, take out Ajmal their bowling is nothing specially fast bowling.

  • Sinhaya on June 6, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    Ajmal is easily the best spinner in the world today.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on June 6, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    Currently, I think Ajmal could well be the best spinner in the world. That is not to say they have been many that are much better in the past, but in the current crop I think he has proved himself. I think the main comparison was between him and Swann, who he outshone significantly in the Pakistan v England series recently. I really can't think of any other current spinner who has the same combination of diverse skills and temperament/aggression that Ajmal has.

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    @captainkool, well ho got his first five wicket haul in tests in england and his first 10 wicket haul in the west indies.

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    this time he has to bowel Tessra. come on saeed we are desperately waiting....

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    ajmal is no.1 spinner in the world now.

  • CaptainKool on June 6, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Don't be so over-exaggerated. He is best off spinner but he still needs to prove outside subcontinent that "World-class" tag truly describes him.

  • X.2. on June 6, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    Ajmal is really a world class bowler

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  • X.2. on June 6, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    Ajmal is really a world class bowler

  • CaptainKool on June 6, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Don't be so over-exaggerated. He is best off spinner but he still needs to prove outside subcontinent that "World-class" tag truly describes him.

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    ajmal is no.1 spinner in the world now.

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    this time he has to bowel Tessra. come on saeed we are desperately waiting....

  • on June 6, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    @captainkool, well ho got his first five wicket haul in tests in england and his first 10 wicket haul in the west indies.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on June 6, 2012, 16:57 GMT

    Currently, I think Ajmal could well be the best spinner in the world. That is not to say they have been many that are much better in the past, but in the current crop I think he has proved himself. I think the main comparison was between him and Swann, who he outshone significantly in the Pakistan v England series recently. I really can't think of any other current spinner who has the same combination of diverse skills and temperament/aggression that Ajmal has.

  • Sinhaya on June 6, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    Ajmal is easily the best spinner in the world today.

  • ProdigyA on June 6, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    To be honest only two Pak players have been saving Pak from embarrasement Ajmal and Misbah. These two have been the majot contributors with bits n pieces from here and there otherwise with the rest of the guyz they are as good as Zim or Kenya. Pls stop Pak bowling is the best, take out Ajmal their bowling is nothing specially fast bowling.

  • on June 6, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    saeed ajmal is the best spinner in the world today he is truly world class the finest example is when he single handedly destroyed england in uae pakistan beat england 3-0 !

  • prasanth.kongati on June 6, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    @cricket_fan_1980 though not yet tested at international level i bet Sunil narine will easily compete with ajmal.