The Spin Magician


Saeed Ajmal is the best modern spinner Pakistan has produced. In fact he may well be the best in the world, considering his record since 2009. Going through the action remodeling, he has lost some of his bite and hence his place in the side, but knowing how big a heart he has, one expects that soon he’ll be back to his best. It’s a good thing Islamabad United have included him in the team because it sets the stage for Ajmal to once again prove himself.
It isn’t a new situation for him to be in either. He had to struggle through a lot to make his mark. He toiled away year after year in domestic circuit. One wonders how big an impact he would have created, had he got an early break. But he continued for the love of the game and kept on piling mountains of wickets. After Misbah became a regular member of the team, he asked national selectors to have a look at the guy and he finally made his test debut in 2009 and got a five-for. Incidentally, it was his old team mate in domestic teams Misbah who used him to his true potential, when he took captaincy in 2010. Ajmal became Misbah’s trump card, when resources were depleted, somehow Misbah¬†made Pakistan a formidable Test side, and a respectable one in ODI and T20.
From 2011 to 2015 he was arguably the best bowler across all formats. The biggest reason for this domination is his experience. Toiling away on all kinds of pitches, he learnt the art of trapping and out-foxing batsmen. Then his temperament to persevere through difficult situations served him well. Then there was this aura of a magician around Ajmal. It was both psychological and physical. He did have a wide range of subtle varieties. He could make the ball talk. His stock deliver – the off-break- was hardly distinguishable from his top-spinner and the magical ‘doosra’ which Saqlain invented and Ajmal perfected. He hardly had a bad day at the office.
Then there was his champion attitude. He played positive and aggressive cricket but also enjoyed himself on the field. He was one of those who seem to be actually in love with the game. With professionalism, sometimes the passion for the game takes the back seat. Not for Ajmal. He played the game with the excitement of a young boy exploring the game for the first time.
To regain his form in PSL biggest challenge for Ajmal will be psychological. With the new action, of course it isn’t easy. But if he is to resurrect his career, this PSL is his opportunity. And his old comrade and captain Misbah will be there with him.