Misbah doubts Saeed Ajmal can make it to World Cup


Sydney: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said Sunday he was unsure whether Saeed Ajmal would participate in the World Cup after the off-spinner’s bowling action was cleared.

The 37-year-old had  originally withdrawn from the World Cup, which begins on Saturday, after he failed to correct his action in time for the 15-man squad announcement last month.

Ajmal was reported during the Galle Test in Sri Lanka in August last year and he was subsequently suspended by the governing body ICC from bowling at international level after his action was assessed a month later.

His withdrawal left Pakistan’s World Cup plans in tatters as they lost four one-day matches — two warm-up and two one-day internationals — in New Zealand.

Ajmal was on Saturday cleared by the ICC (International Cricket Council) to play again, sparking talk of a surprise call-up for the World Cup.

“You never know, there are a lot of ifs and buts,” Misbah told a press conference when asked of Ajmal’s chances of appearing in the showpiece event.

“The main concern is that he hasn’t played any cricket yet, let’s see how it goes in the next week because the team is already announced and everybody is here so I can’t just say anything about that,” he added.

Ajmal played two unofficial one-day matches for Pakistan’s second string against Kenya in Lahore in December, bowling only 12.1 overs.

Misbah said that Ajmal himself had doubts whether he would be ready to play.

“I can say he is not sure about that because you need some cricket behind you before such a big event,” said Misbah.

Pakistani media have reported that the team’s management were not in favour of reinstating Ajmal, and the rules state a player can only be added when injury rules out a member of the original squad.

Misbah admitted his team’s poor form was a concern, having lost three one-day series last year and going down 2-0 against New Zealand this month.

“I think we are not having good times in the ODIs… but I think this team is capable of turning that around.

“I am excited about this team. This is a bunch of youngsters and a few senior and we are a team which can surprise anybody at any stage.

“I am really hopeful that we are going to improve our performance but we can do that in the World Cup.”

Pakistan open their campaign against arch-rivals and defending champions India in Adelaide on February 15, a day after the tournament begins in Australia and New Zealand.

Misbah said loss of key paceman Junaid Khan to injury was another setback.

“Definitely, Junaid’s loss is  a big blow,” said Misbah. Junaid failed to recover from a leg injury and was replaced by Rahat Ali last week.

“Junaid had been our key bowler, especially in the one-days and it’s big blow to lose our best bowler but other bowlers need to stand up and play to their best.

“We need a big effort from all the players. As sportsmen we need to be hopeful. We know that it’s the ODIs and whenever you try to do your best and get the momentum you have chances against any side.” (AFP)