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Ajmal targets South Africa on spinning tracks

October 1, 2013

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal defended his performances this year, saying he will do better in the two-test series against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates this month.

Ajmal took 24 wickets in three tests against England in the UAE last year as Pakistan whitewashed the then-No. 1 ranked team.

But this year, Ajmal has done little to impress either the Proteas or Zimbabwe, as Pakistan has lost four of its last five tests.

South Africa routed Pakistan 3-0 and Ajmal finished with just 11 wickets — 10 of those in the second test at Cape Town. Against Zimbabwe last month, Ajmal took 11 wickets in Pakistan’s first test victory but hauled in only three wickets in the second test as Zimbabwe recorded a stunning victory to level the series.

Ajmal defended his efforts, speaking on Tuesday in Lahore where Pakistan was in camp.

“I have taken 25 wickets in the last five test matches out of which three test matches were played on green top wickets in South Africa,” he said. “Who says it’s a bad performance?

“I am not saying that I will take 20 or 40 wickets against South Africa in the coming series, but I will try my best to be the man of the series.”

Ajmal said he will not be eyeing “revenge” against South Africa, but will challenge the Proteas on wickets which are expected to help spinners.

“We know it takes spin in Dubai, and yes we are capable of bowling them out twice in test matches,” he said. “There’s nothing like revenge in cricket, but we will give them a good reply.”

In his career, he has taken 147 wickets in 28 tests at an average of 26.78. He is ranked fourth in the current test rankings behind South Africa fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath of Sri Lanka.

“Last time when we played in Dubai, England was No. 1 and we were at the same position (at No. 6) but we performed very well,” Ajmal said. “We will try our best to perform as well as we did against England in the UAE.”

Ajmal said he was focusing on his doosra — an offspin delivery that turns away from right-handed batsman — to outfox the Proteas in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“My strength is the doosra and I do take 70 percent of my wickets through it.”

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