Lahore - Pakistan coach Waqar Younis believes the team was missing off-spinner Saeed
Ajmal as it makes a belated return to playing international fixtures at home.
Ajmal was overlooked for the groundbreaking series of two Twenty20 games at
home against Zimbabwe, having struggled last month against Bangladesh as he
tried to implement a new bowling action due to official scrutiny of his
previous suspect bent-arm action.
Ajmal is also unlikely to be part of the three one-day games against
Zimbabwe next week.
"I don't think so you will find (another) Ajmal in near future, it's
definitely a thing which is missing," Younis said after Pakistan beat
Zimbabwe by five wickets in the first Twenty20 on Friday.
It was the first international cricket match in Pakistan against a major
team since an attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Ajmal had been mainstay of Pakistan's bowling with 85 wickets in 64
Twenty20s and 184 from 113 ODIs. However, the off-spinner looked to have lost
bite in his bowling with his remodelled action.
"You have to bring on youngsters and we have 2-3 youngsters like Imad
Wasim, he is another find," Younis said.
A dancing, boisterous crowd of 27 000 at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore enjoyed
the powerful hitting of opening batsman Mukhtar Ahmed, who hit 83 off 45 balls
as Pakistan reached the target of 173 for the loss of five wickets and three
balls to spare.
The spectators endured several checkpoints to enter the stadium and at least
4 000 security officials were on hand.
"We are all proud of Lahorites, we are all proud of our nation,"
Younis said of a disciplined crowd.
"We have to keep patience maybe the crowd faced some difficulty while
coming to the ground but the way whole Lahore watched this match and enjoyed
it, hats off to them."
Pakistan team received a thunderous applause from the home fans as it
entered the stadium more than two hours before the start of the game.
"The welcome we got at the Gaddafi Stadium it was hard to control
emotions," Younis said.
"Your emotions are different when you play in front of your own crowd
and I told the players they have to concentrate on the game."
Ahmed shared Pakistan's record equalling Twenty20 opening stand of 142 runs with
Ahmed Shehzad, who also scored 55 before Pakistan lost wickets in quick
succession. Captain Shahid Afridi hit the winning boundary.
Younis also appreciated the efforts of Pakistan Cricket Board and his
government in convincing Zimbabwe to come to Pakistan.
"It's a big achievement on part of both the PCB and the government that
the Zimbabwe cricket team came," he said.
"It's an icing on the cake when we won, it's a good achievement."
Another capacity crowd of 27 000 is expected to witness the second Twenty20
on Sunday before the first ODI next Tuesday.