‘Ajmal will be trump card against India’

Updated 14 December 2012
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‘Ajmal will be trump card against India’

ISLAMABAD: Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal will be Pakistan’s “trump card” during their short cricket tour of India this month, coach Dav Whatmore said yesterday.
The 35-year-old Ajmal is ranked No. 1 in one-day internationals and Twenty20s, with 109 wickets in 71 ODIs and 69 wickets in 48 T20s.
“Saeed Ajmal will always remain a trump card for us as we all know he’s a wonderful bowler,” Whatmore said in Lahore. “He’s very much needed, and he will always remain a threat.” Ajmal’s doosra that turns away from the right-handers continues to baffle batsmen. But he’s expected to have to share an extra workload in the one-dayers after enigmatic all-rounder Shahid Afridi was dropped by the selectors due to poor form.
Pakistan’s short training camp was confined to the National Cricket Academy in Lahore due to rain on Friday. Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was expected to pass on batting advice before the team leaves for India on Dec. 22.
“He’s been a stalwart for Pakistan cricket and he’s only recently retired so he’s able to pass on some knowledge against contemporary bowlers he has faced,” Whatmore said.
Inzamam has been appointed as a batting consultant on a series-to-series basis by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
“He has faced the Indian bowlers so he is able to work with our players and discuss and let them know how he approached the same bowlers that we are going to approach.” The series, the first between the neighbors in five years, features two T20s and three ODIs beginning at Bangalore on Dec. 25.
Tours between them were suspended when 166 people were killed in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistan. Since then, they have met in tournaments, including the 2011 World Cup semifinals at the northern Indian city of Mohali. India beat Pakistan then, and went on to win the World Cup.
Whatmore said no matter what type of pitches they met in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Calcutta and New Delhi, he just hoped they were conducive to good matches.
“We’ve got five different venues, the pitches at those venues, I think, are slightly different,” he said. “Inherently you have certain venues that will play in a certain way ... both sides have decent players of all conditions. But, you know, the conditions in India are fairly well known to our boys and it will be a good contest.”
Whatmore was appointed coach in March and soon after the former Australia test batsman guided Pakistan to victory against India in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. India got the better of Pakistan in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
“This will be the first time we’ll play more than two or three times in a small series, it’s an honor to be part of that,” he said. “It will be an experience.”


Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

Updated 13 min 56 sec ago
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Ahmed defends Pakistan squad as ‘best of the best’

  • Fawad Alam is a seasoned player, but the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well, says Pakistani skipper
  • Former test opener Ramiz Raja claims there are flaws in Alam’s batting technique

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has defended the 16-man national squad for tours of Ireland and England as the “best of the best” despite criticism over the omission of batsman Fawad Alam.
“It’s not like I voted him (Alam) out,” Ahmed said on the last day of Pakistan’s training camp in Lahore on Saturday, adding that “I would have picked all the 25 ... but we had to pick the best of the best 16 players.”
Wasim Akram was among several former Pakistan test players who have criticized selectors for ignoring Alam in the middle order — especially since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have now retired.
Alam was among 25 players called up for the camp after scoring consistently on the domestic circuit, but he failed to make the final squad.
Former test opener Ramiz Raja claimed there were flaws in Alam’s batting technique and that he would not have considered the left-hander, considering the tough conditions in England.
Ahmed played down the dispute.
“People can make as much reasons to talk, but there is nothing like flaws in anyone’s batting technique,” Ahmed said. “If you look back, Fawad had played a test in 2009 and he is a seasoned player ... (but) the players we selected are also equally good and have been scoring continuously as well.”
Ahmed said it had been a “unanimous decision” by coach, captain and selectors.
Pakistan has included uncapped batsmen Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali in the final 16, as well as Fakhar Zaman, who has done well in limited-overs cricket but is yet to play a test match.
Misbah and Younis will be missed on a tour of England where Misbah scored a century at Lord’s in 2016 and Younis made 218 at The Oval in the fourth test to draw the series 2-2.
Pakistan has two four-day matches against Kent and Northamptonshire before meeting Ireland in a one-off test at Dublin, starting May 11. It plays two tests against England, starting May 24.
Pakistan will also play Scotland on June 12-13 in two Twenty20 Internationals.
Pakistan faced a major blow when its premier legspinner Yasir Shah was ruled out due to injury. However, Ahmed said he wasn’t sure that Shadab Khan, who has played just one test match, would make it to the final team with the English conditions more suitable for pace.
“The weather will be much cooler and I am not even sure if we are going to play a spinner,” Ahmed said.