Home > Features >

Saeed Ajmal − Catching up with his own expectations

Saeed Ajmal has had a comparatively drier series than his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rangana Herath © AFP
Saeed Ajmal (above) has had a comparatively drier series than his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rangana Herath © AFP

The off-spinner has had a dry spell recently, but his struggle is not quite what selectors would be fretting over. Abhijit Banare elaborates why it makes sense for Saeed Ajmal to take it easy and focus on one game at a time.

 

In his short Test career of 32 matches, Saeed Ajmal has picked over five wickets on an average in a match (with 164 scalps overall). This number is much ahead than the two spin legends of the modern era: Muttiah Muralitharan who had 132 wickets and Shane Warne with 155. Except for age, Ajmal is on a higher pedestal than the spin legends. Yet during the Test series against Sri Lanka, Ajmal has allowed a bubble to build around himself that he is struggling for wickets and in turn forcing himself out of it with determined statements. The statistic of Ajmal getting a wicket after 77.2 overs is just another number which will hardly be remembered as he progresses and gets back in to his rhythm.

Though the wickets haven’t been turners to assist Ajmal, a bulk of his pressure is also added by the fact that his counterpart Rangana Herath has done well on the same wickets. Instead of feeling pressurised, the offie has a lesson or two to pick from Herath. Both running in the latter half of 30s don’t seem to have a long career ahead of them. But Herath has honed his skills on bowling in such conditions. As Ajmal said on the eve of the second Test, “I am doing the hard work and will bounce back. The ball isn’t spinning and they are playing cautiously, if I had got some spin the result would have been different. I have been playing in Dubai for the last six years, but haven’t seen such a bad response as here.”

Probably Ajmal is going through the same state as someone like Ravichandran Ashwin was faced with in pitches where there was nothing on offer for him (in Australia and South Africa). But the Pakistan off-spinner is a far better bowler to worry about a poor series or two to drag him down. If that happens, Ajmal will have only himself to blame because it’s all in the mind.

By being ahead in numbers in comparison to some of the greats, it is all about expectations. In his Test career so far, Ajmal has gone wicketless only once which was in South Africa this year. By being a wicket-taker, the captain always tosses up the ball to him with an assurance that he will get the breakthrough. At the same time, credit to the Sri Lankan batsmen for not conceding their wickets easily and playing the waiting game.

At the end of the day, Ajmal would think that his fellow countryman, Saqlain Mushtaq had the best solution to offer. “He is a quality spinner and has proven himself in every format, but he looked tired against Sri Lanka and perhaps he needs to be given a break from the sport so that he can refresh himself and come back fresh. He can still play for some more years and is our match winner,” Mushtaq said.

And if a better example is required, then Ajmal should look up to Dale Steyn. The pacer was under scrutiny for not tormenting the batsmen. Just when the voices were clamouring, he fought back with a six-for against India in a brilliant display of his skills, outsmarting the Indians. As mentioned earlier, the flip side of setting the bar high early on only gets on to you when there is a perceived slump some time later in the career. That’s what we often heard about Sachin Tendulkar. It’s just a matter of time when champions fight back.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Colombo

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wkts

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

Photos

Australia vs South Africa, 3rd ODI at Canberra

Videos

SL vs Eng: Buttler practices wicketkeeping in nets

Quinton de Kock’s century in vain as Australia register two wicket win over South Africa

Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque register second-highest opening partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs

ICC World Cup 2015: Australia in risk of overkill

Live Cricket Score Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2nd ODI at Chittagong: Bangladesh win by 68 runs

India vs Australia 2014: How crucial are India’s practice games ahead of the first Test?

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 India New Zealand Pakistan South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh 2014 Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

India vs Cricket Australia XI, 1st Tour Game Preview: India eye good warm-up to kick-off tour Down Under

Australia the team to beat at ICC World Cup 2015 says Michael Vaughan

Bangladesh trounce Zimbabwe by 68 runs in 2nd ODI at Chittagong; lead series 2-0

Steven Finn: England can upset bigger teams in ICC World Cup 2015

Tom Latham completely focused on game says father Rod Latham

Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney: Highlights

Saeed Ajmal: 99 per cent bowlers will fail 15 degree test

Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque register second-highest opening partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs

ICC World Cup 2015: Australia in risk of overkill

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

Watch Free Live Streaming & Telecast of Indian Super League (ISL) 2014 Football 37th Match between Kerala Blasters FC vs Atletico de Kolkata

PK Tharki Chokro making: Rancho aka Aamir Khan and Munna Bhai aka Sanjay Dutt shake legs to this folk number

Simbu-Hansika’s Vaalu slated for Christmas release!

Yeh Hai Mohabbatein: Will Raman and Ishita help Mihika with her plans?

Alibaba to launch its Taobao marketplace in international markets: Reuters

8 reasons to add rosemary to your diet

eBay India ‘Black Friday’ sale kicks off today

How many calories do bananas have?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here