Saeed Ajmal to target Chris Gayle in Champions Trophy

Saeed Ajmal (above) hopes to keep the big hitting Chris Gayle silent in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy 2013 © Getty Images

Abbottabad: May 7, 2013

Wily Pakistan off spinner Saeed Ajmal vowed Monday to target West Indian swashbuckler Chris Gayle when the two sides meet in the Champions Trophy next month.

Pakistan is currently featuring in a tune-up camp in Abbottabad, where US forces killed Osama bin Laden two years ago, a hilly town hoping to match conditions in England where the eight-nation Trophy will be played from June 6-23.

The 35-year-old Ajmal anchors Pakistan’s spin department in the tournament where they face the West Indies in their opening group B match at The Oval on June 7.

The match is seen as an encounter between Gayle and Pakistani bowlers, and Ajmal hopes to rein in the Jamaican who is in great form in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), having smashed a world record 175 not out.

“We are practicing and the way Gayle has been playing it is amazing,” Ajmal told reporters. “We are looking at the videos of his batting because we have a match against them and hopefully we will have no problems.”

Pakistan will also face South Africa on June 10 and arch-rivals India on June 15 — both at Birmingham.
Defending champions Australia, England, Sri Lanka and New Zealand feature in group A. Top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.

“Whether the batsman is a left-hander or right-hander, the ball is in our hand, the bat is in their hands. We have to bowl them out to go forward and we are going there with a positive mind. There are eight teams and, hopefully, we will win.”

Ajmal, who has 71 wickets — the second best in all Twenty20 cricket behind countryman Umar Gul (72) — hopes to perform in the English conditions.

“I have to work hard because batsmen hit hard from the word go so its important to bowl well and I am working hard on that,” said Ajmal.

“I have overcome pain in my lower abdomen and doctors have said it will go with medicine, but I will go for a check-up in England as well,” said Ajmal, who was initially diagnosed with a hernia.

Ajmal said Pakistan will miss paceman Umar Gul (injured) and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi (left out of the squad).

“Afridi is a legend and no doubt we will miss him and Gul but the team is balanced and we have good bowlers in Junaid [Khan], Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan and Abdul Rehman,” said Ajmal.