World Cup 2015 - Saeed Ajmal's absence a huge blow to Pakistan: Mushtaq Ahmed
Pakistan’s spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed has admitted that Pakistan will struggle to cope with the absence of ace off-spinner Saeed Ajmal during the Cricket World Cup, starting in Australia and New Zealand next month.
Ajmal was banned from bowling in international cricket last September after his elbow extension while bowling was found to be well beyond the 15-degree limit as permitted by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Since his ban, Ajmal has been working extensively on remodelling his bowling action under the guidance of former Pakistan offie Saqlain Mushtaq, who was credited with inventing the doosra, in Lahore. For most of the last few months, Ajmal had expressed confidence in returning in time for the World Cup. However, a failure to make significant improvements, illustrated by the recent tests he underwent in Chennai, resulted in the 37-year-old ruling himself out of the marquee event.
“We were used to Ajmal,” Ahmed, who worked as England’s spin consultant before moving back to his home country, told reporters.
“Ajmal has been our legend and has been our number one bowler, and it’s very difficult to make a combination without him.”
“Leg-spinners have been very successful in Australia”
Pakistan have opted for two leg-spinners in their World Cup squad, rookie Yasir Shah and Shahid Afridi, and do not have even one specialist off-spinner in their 15. Ahmed, however, wasn’t concerned by the perceived lack of variety in the spin department. He, himself, was a leg-spinner during his playing days and had played an integral role in Pakistan winning the World Cup the last time it was held in Australia and New Zealand, in 1992.
“If you look back, leg-spinners have been very successful in Australia,” Ahmed said.
“I have my personal experience; I have toured five to six times (in) Australia and have a very successful ratio bowling over there.
“The way 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 leg-spinner gets bounce, he becomes a wicket-taking option.”