Four young spinners in Dubai got a golden opportunity to work on their craft under the watchful eyes of Pakistan spin icon Saeed Ajmal at Kings’ School, Al Barsha, on Friday.
The Saeed Ajmal International Cricket Academy (SAICA) was in Dubai over the weekend as part of their player development programme and took part in the Kings’ Cup Dubai clash with Kings Cricket Academy.
While SAICA won the game by 87 runs, it was all about the experience for the young kids of Kings’ Cricket Academy.
More importantly, it was a dream come true for Kings’ spinners Hamad Arshad, Chris Sequiera, Raunak Vaswani and Lovepreet Singh who got to pick the brains of Ajmal.
“Ajmal himself volunteered to work with our spinners after watching them train before the game. After the match was over, he spent half an hour with them working on just their off-spin,” Kings Cricket Academy coach Ash Mohammed said.
For Mohammed and Kings’ Academy, it was more about learning from the best in the business. SAICA had some experienced players in their line-up like Khurram Shahzad – who scored a century on Friday – and Ajmal who decided to bowl in the match.
“Ajmal not only bowled in the match, but he also bowled every variation he had. It was a great learning experience for our players.
“Winning or losing becomes less important when we see kids showcase their talent and confidence to perform at the best of their ability while still looking to improve,” the coach added.
For the record, SAICA posted 368-8 in their 30 overs with Shahzad scoring a ton. KCA made a spirited reply in the chase, reaching 281 before being bowled out in 20.1 overs with captain Hamad Arshad scoring 46. SAICA won the match by 87 runs. In fact, Arshad also got Ajmal out on the first ball of the first innings.
Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan has been advised complete rest and prescribed two weeks of medication in order to recover from the virus which ruled him out of the upcoming ODI series against England.
The young leggie had been originally named in the 15-man squad for the five ODIs against England but was subsequently ruled out after being struck by a virus. Following the development, Shadab was flown to England by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to see a London-based gastroenterology and hepatology specialist.
The wrist-spinner will now fly back to Islamabad on Monday and will be required to undergo a further round of blood tests once he completes his two weeks of rest. The PCB hope to have a clearer picture on Shadab’s fitness for the 2019 ICC World Cup once the results of those blood tests are revealed.
The 20-year-old had earlier been named in Pakistan’s 15-man preliminary World Cup squad as well and the team management now faces an anxious wait. Shadab has been excellent for Pakistan in the limited-overs formats ever since he made his international debut in 2017.
In 34 ODIs and 32 T20Is for Pakistan so far, the leg-spinner has picked up 47 and 44 wickets respectively. If Shadab is unable to recover in time for the World Cup, Pakistan could be forced to go with senior spinner Yasir Shah who has replaced him in the squad for the England ODI series.
Pakistan recorded a 100-run win in their first tour game against Kent on Saturday but Yasir had an expensive outing with figures of 3-90 from his 10 overs.
Imad Wasim put in a fine all-round show which saw the southpaw first register a quick-fire ton with the bat before putting in a measured bowling display.
Led by Imad’s unbeaten 78-ball 117 down the order, Pakistan posted a massive total of 358-7 in their 50 overs after batting first.
Openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman put on a 92-run stand to set the tone for the day with the latter going on to make 76 (59) before his stay was brought to an end by Imran Qayyum. The left-armed Kent spinner also accounted for Babar Azam in a fine display which saw him claim four wickets in total.
However, that was as good as it got for Kent with first Haris Sohail and then Imad turning on the style for Pakistan. Sohail continued his recent good form in limited-overs cricket with a fine 75-run knock but it was Imad who stole the show with a sublime innings which included four sixes and as many as 13 boundaries.
Sohail and Imad added 139 runs for the sixth wicket before Sohail fell in the 47th over but Imad then rained down the boundaries with more than 50 runs coming off the final four overs.
In reply, Kent never got going in the chase with their openers Zak Crawley and Sean Dickson falling cheaply to Faheem Ashraf who was excellent with the new ball.
Only Alex Blake (89) and Ollie Robinson (49) were able to muster any resistance with the bat for Kent who were ultimately bowled out for 258 runs at the start of the 45th over.
Yasir Shah picked three wickets for Pakistan but the leg-spinner was highly expensive with his 10 overs going for 90 runs. Hasan Ali and Faheem snared two wickets apiece while part-time spinner Fakhar Zaman also chipped in with a couple.
Pakistan will now take on Northamptonshire in their second tour match on Monday before they lock horns with Leicestershire on May 1. Following the completion of the tour games, Pakistan will lock horns with hosts England in a one-off T20I followed by a five-match ODI series.
Imad Wasim: 118 not out (78)
Fakhar Zaman: 76 (59)
Imran Qayyum: 4-45
Kent: 258 all out
Alex Blake: 89 (48)
Yasir Shah: 3-90