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

'World-class' Ajmal key for Pakistan

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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.

  • dummy4fb 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.......

  • dummy4fb 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.

  • dummy4fb on June 7, 2012, 6:53 GMT

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

  • dummy4fb 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.

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