Image courtesy of: NDTV
Ajmal is looking forward to facing his arch-rivals once again
Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has announced that his side’s clash with India during the Champions Trophy would be a special event for all fans and added that the “world will not be disappointed by this match”.
Ajmal even went as far as saying that this match, which is scheduled to take place on June 15, would be as highly anticipated as the final.
“The atmosphere, wherever we play, is always electric and I’m sure the fans lucky enough to be at Edgbaston and all those watching the telecast around the world will not be disappointed by this match,” he said. “It’s like a mini-final within the tournament.”
India and Pakistan played three ODIs against each other in December last year and Pakistan emerged victorious with a 2-1 win, but Ajmal believes the side that handles the pressure better will triumph this time around.
“We have the psychological advantage having defeated India in their own backyard in the one-day series and I’m confident that we can defeat them in Birmingham,” he said.
When asked about India’s decision to drop senior players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, Ajmal noted that it was a common occurrence for all teams.
“Big names are replaced by lesser known players who then turn into big names and then they get replaced,” he said. “The cycle of cricket goes on, no cricketer lasts forever and no cricketer has a God-given right to be picked again and again.
“If a player is out of form or struggling for form then it’s only right that they are replaced by a player who is in form.”
Ajmal also holds no hard feelings towards the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and their controversial decision to ban Pakistani players from participating in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“It’s not as if we are being stopped from playing cricket everywhere around the world,” he said. “Whether Pakistani cricketers are allowed to play in the IPL is a matter for those that organise the tournament and not for the cricketers.
“If the organisers invite us to play in the future, we will play, but if they don’t invite us then good luck to them. Of course I’d like to play in the IPL, but it’s a decision that’s out of my hands at the moment.”
The Pakistani off-spinner also revealed that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had requested him to lose some weight.
“Well I was given a training and dietary plan by the PCB which I’ve had to follow,” he said. “Generally it was OK, but I had to stop the parathas and eating the sweetmeats which was the toughest part of the routine.
“I love my parathas and sweetmeats, but as a professional sportsman you have to make some sacrifices sometimes.”