Former Pakistan ace spinner Saeed Ajmal said the selectors have erred in not picking left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir for the 2019 World Cup and added the Men in Green need his experience at the showpiece event.
Ajmal – whose Saeed Ajmal International Cricket Academy played the Kings’ Cricket Academy at King’s School Al Barsha in Dubai on Friday – said the selectors should have shown faith in the abilities of the left-armer who bowled a match-winning spell in the 2017 Champions Trophy final against India.
Amir was not selected after an alarming dip in form following that Champions Trophy final, going wicketless in nine out of 14 ODIs since.
“You need experienced players in a World Cup. Mohammad Amir should have been in the team,” Ajmal told Sport360 on Friday.
“Pakistan should have announced the same 15-member squad for the England series that would have played the World Cup. Now they have two extra players (for the England ODI series). It’s a bit of a mix and match.
“My thinking is that Amir is an experienced player. He won us the Champions Trophy final. He should have played.”
Why Mohammad Amir has not been included in the initial World Cup Squad - his bowling stats in ODIs since the Champions Trophy Final:— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) April 18, 2019
A wicket every 20 overs#CWC19
Ajmal said Amir is valuable because he swings the ball, which can be a great asset in English conditions.
“The conditions in England suit fast bowlers. Amir is the one Pakistan bowler who swings the ball both ways. Experience is experience. A player can’t perform all the time. Even the biggest players go through a bad patch,” he added.
The other player that Ajmal felt should have been an automatic selection is power hitter Asif Ali, who like Amir will feature in the five match ODI series against England that starts on May 8 but isn’t a part of the World Cup squad. For the record, teams can change their teams until May 23 without seeking the ICC’s permission.
“The team that has been picked looks OK in batting. One player they should have taken is Asif Ali. Pakistan need a pinch hitter who can hit 15 runs an over. (Top order batsman) Abid Ali is a decent player, but the fact is the team needs a pinch hitter,” the 41-year-old added.
Pakistan selected left-arm spinner Imad Wasim despite him not passing the fitness test. His knee injury has been an impediment for some time but the selectors saw merit in his spin bowling with the new and old ball. And Ajmal agreed with his selection.
“Yes, Imad didn’t pass the fitness test. But we need an experienced spinner. And he bowls with new and old ball. He can hit a few shots as well,” Ajmal concluded.
Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan was ruled out of next month’s series against England with a virus, making him a doubtful starter for the World Cup.
The 20-year-old is a key layer for Pakistan but has now been ruled out for nearly a month, with the leggie set to receive treatment in the UK.
“Shadab’s blood tests have revealed (a) virus and doctors have advised him a four week rest,” PCB said in a statement.
“Shadab is out of the five-match one-day series against England and a Twenty20 match (also against England),” the statement added.
The Pakistan team will play a five match ODI series against top-ranked England from May 5. Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq described Shadab’s loss as “bad news”, hoping he recovers in time for the World Cup.
Later, PCB announced leg-spinner Yasir Shah as replacement for Shadab. Yasir played all five one-days against Australia in the UAE but generally struggled, taking just four wickets.
Pakistan opener Abid Ali said on Sunday that despite frosty political relations with India, he wants to meet legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, hug him and get a few batting tips during next month’s World Cup.
The 31-year old made it to the ODI side recently and hit a century on debut against Australia in Dubai last month.
“It’s my wish that I meet Sachin Tendulkar,” Abid was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.
“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply.”
Abid said it will be a memorable day when he meets Tendulkar.
“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.
“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” added Abid.
Abid said he has tried to model his batting on Tendulkar’s style.
“Actually I have followed Sachin’s technique from day one of my career and after watching him I tried to play like him. He was a great player, just like our own Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf.
“I adopt their good things and leave any bad thing. If I meet him I will try to talk to him and get some advice, mentally and technically, so that it helps me improve my batting.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have been at a low point for a long time and there calls in India to boycott the World Cup match with Pakistan in Manchester on June 16.