Ajmal vows to bounce back
Saeed Ajmal (Gallo Images)
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, Jan 14, 2014 (AFP) -Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal Tuesday promised to bounce back after his below-par performances in the two Tests against Sri Lanka, saying he had never had such a bad response from the pitches.
Ajmal managed just five wickets in the two Tests, much below his five-wicket per match ratio, having taken 164 wickets in 32 Tests.
The performance of the 36-year-old, regarded as Pakistan's main weapon, is the main reason Pakistan are 1-0 down with the final Test starting in Sharjah from Tuesday.
"I don't feel that if the performance is not good in the last two matches I should be disappointed," Ajmal told reporters.
"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," said Ajmal, who took 18 wickets to help Pakistan win 1-0 in the last three-match series against Sri Lanka in 2011.
Ajmal went wicketless in his 49 overs in the second innings of the first Test in Abu Dhabi, where Sri Lanka came away with a draw after conceding a 179-run lead.
He took three wickets in the two innings of the Dubai Test, which Sri Lanka won by nine wickets on Sunday.
"I did a lot of hard work but couldn't get a good result. But I have never been disappointed with cricket and will try to perform good in this (coming) match and help the team to win it," said Ajmal, who also has 171 one-day international and 81 Twenty20 wickets.
Ajmal denied he was feeling overworked, having played in all three formats since his international debut in 2008.
"We don't play that much Test cricket so there's no workload on me," said Ajmal.
"No there's no pressure, it's cricket and there are ups and downs, they (Sri Lankan batsmen) are relaxed while facing me and that's why they are playing me well."
Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore also agreed Ajmal had struggled to get any response from the pitches, but added that he should not be judged solely on the basis of two bad performances.
"Ajmal will always need to be managed properly, as all match winning bowlers do. Both Ajmal and (Sri Lankan spinner) Rangana Herath found the pitches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai unresponsive," Whatmore said.