The two players have been Pakistan’s biggest strengths in this year © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar-led Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will take on the Rest of the World XI (RoW), captained by Shane Warne. The epic clash will also witness a riveting contest between the two Pakistani superstars, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. Devarchit Varma says the contest will be as exciting as the others in the match.
The Indians are in England for a marathon tour. They have already played two warm-up games, but the star-studded Indians have been overshadowed by the galaxy of greats that is present in London to play the bicentenary match. All in the cricket fraternity are eagerly waiting for the clash, as once again they will get to see their favourite cricketers, the legends of the past and some of the most talent players in the present generation in action together.
While Sachin Tendulkar versus Shane Warne, Virender Sehwag versus Umar Gul and Kevin Pietersen versus Daniel Vettori promises to be some of the biggest contests, also among them is the Pakistan spin star Saeed Ajmal and the boom boom Shahid Afridi. The two players have been Pakistan’s biggest strengths in this year and never ever has the world seen them play against each other.
Ajmal is one of the finest spinners in international cricket at the moment and the impact that he creates is more than many of his contemporaries. Not only he has the ability to stem the flow of runs, but the pressure that he creates on the opposition batsmen plays in favour of his side on many occasions. Ajmal has the ability to run through any batting order that is the little frail in order to tackle spin. But the challenge for the right-hand spinner in this game would be to make a mark against the likes of Adam Gilchrist, Sehwag, Pietersen, Collingwood and the dangerous Yuvraj Singh. While some may argue that Yuvraj hasn’t had the best of the runs in the recent past, but his performance in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was more than enough to prove that there is still a lot of cricket left in him.
Against Ajmal, also lined up is the dashing Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi. The evergreen cricketer is witnessing another high in his career. Till the Asia Cup 2014 Afridi was on a downward spiral, but the way he dismantled the Indians and then the hosts Bangladesh in order to help his side qualify for the final of the tournament was more than enough to show that he can turn around the tables in only couple of deliveries.
Afridi has still the fire left in him to destroy the best of the attacks, and having the experience of playing international cricket with Ajmal, he would certainly be knowing a couple of things about the spinner more than any other international batsmen. Afridi may not be the best of the players against spin attack, but the knowledge to take on Ajmal and the ability to judge what kind of tactics the right-arm spinner may use against his Rest of the World XI side will not only help him but also the Shane Warne-led team.
The MCC-ROW clash is certainly a teaser in more than one way. The fans would certainly have loved to see their favourite starts playing a five-day match. A 50-over match is certainly not enough to satisfy the hunger for the fans.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)