DUBAI: Pakistan cricket team coach Waqar Younis urged his bowlers to step up and fill the big void left by the absence of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal when they meet Australia in the limited over and Test series.
Ajmal, ranked number one in one-day cricket, was last month suspended after his bowling action was found illegal following an assessment in a bio-mechanical laboratory in Australia.
Pakistan will badly miss Ajmal who has single-handedly shouldered their bowling attack in all three formats of the game, and even more so in the lone Twenty20 against Australia in Dubai on Sunday.
Ajmal, who turns 37 later this month, has 85 Twenty20 wickets – the most by any bowler in this format. But Waqar said Pakistan will have to live with the fact that Ajmal is not available.
“Ajmal has been a world beater for the last seven years and he has been at the top of his game but we have to live with it and we have to find some new boys and make sure the youngsters deliver,” Waqar told a press conference.
Pakistan have selected 22-year-old left-arm spinner Raza Hasan to replace Ajmal, and Waqar said he hoped the youngster would come good.
“In a way it is an opportunity for young players like Hasan, or some other spinners we might bring into the Test squad, and also the responsibility of some of the senior bowlers to step up and perform,” said Waqar.
Waqar said Ajmal’s absence should not affect the team.
“With Ajmal gone out, things are different now and we have to really think hard as a bunch and not as one individual like Ajmal winning us games. Since he is not there what should we do? Are we going to start losing games?”
“I think that is very negative and we need to think positive and make sure that our bowlers deliver.”
Waqar stressed his team needed to lift their game after losing both Tests and one-day series in Sri Lanka two months ago.
“I think (the) first thing we need (is) to play better cricket than them. I think it is important we play to our potential and play to our ability which I think we have,” said the coach.
“We have got a good young side like the Australians have. I think it will be good contest because both are sort of in a state of building up for the World Cup and so I think it is an opportunity for both teams,” he added of the mega event next year.
The Twenty20 will be followed by three one-days and two Tests.