‘It’s very difficult to make a combination without’ Ajmal, says Mushtaq Ahmed

"We were used to Saeed Ajmal, he's our legend and has been our number one bowler"

“We were used to Saeed Ajmal, he’s our legend and has been our number one bowler”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan bowling consultant Mushtaq Ahmed has admitted that the national team will struggle if spinner Saeed Ajmal fails to play in this year’s World Cup.

Ajmal, who has been banned from bowling since September, will have his action officially retested at the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai on January 24.

“Unfortunately you all know what happened to Saeed Ajmal and Hafeez, we got stuck,” Ahmed said. “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 off-spinner 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.”

However, Ahmed believes that leg-spinners Yasir Shah and Shahid Afridi will pick up a lot of wickets during the tournament since the pitches in Australia will help them considerably.

“If you look back, leg-spinners have been very successful in Australia,” he said. “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.”

However, Ahmed noted that Pakistan should not bank on Haris Sohail to do a lot of damage with his part-time left-arm spin.

“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,” Ahmed said. “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.”

But, even if Ajmal is unavailable, Ahmed sees no reason as to why Pakistan cannot win the World Cup.

“We don’t have the ball in our hand, but we have lot of belief,” he said. “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.”

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