“Saeed Ajmal with his charismatic mystical bowling has given new energy to cricket by sparking creativity and has kept boredom at bay”

 

With a serious look, he will slide up to the wicket, stop for a bit, and then will deliver the ball with a thrilling forearm flip. One of his delivery will leave the batsmen leaving them baffled, another one will zip in with an extreme pace to rip apart the batsmen’s heart, while another one will make the batsmen assume that it will turn a lot but it does not turn at all and thus trapping them in the world of mystery. After each delivery, the bowler will respond with a sweet smile –  the sweetest smiles always have unknown secrets behind them.

The name of the bowler is Saeed Ajmal.

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Perhaps cricket is the only game that offers us a mystery. We don’t have a mysterious soccer player, a mysterious sprinter, a mysterious hockey player, or a mysterious tennis player. But cricket has its mysterious students. These students don’t whack the ball hard, they don’t terrorize with pace but they cast a magical spell with the spin-web. Yes, it’s the spinners who are the mysterious students and cricket is not merely an awesome and ferocious display of pace bowling; it also involves the subtle guile of spin.

Legspinners have always captured the imagination of the cricket romantics. Though cricket has always been enriched with some fantastic offspinners, it’s the leg-spin bowling that has always been considered the most lethal and artistic. The emergence of Muralitharan and Saqlain Mushtaq did a lot to attract the eyeballs of the cricket critics and romantics, but as soon as they left the scene an emptiness gripped everyone – off-spin bowling was left in the cold. But from Faisalabad, a bubbly chap stepped up to rekindle the lost art of Murali and Saqlain and in a very short time, he has claimed himself as one of the kings of off-spin bowling in the world cricket at present.

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Saeed Ajmal offers us a bag of tricks. Since last year, his bowling has earned enough spices to trigger a joy amongst the spectators. With subtle changes in flight and speed, Ajmal has total authority over all of his deliveries – the traditional offspinners, the doosra, and the teesra. Many offspinners tend to change their line while bowling the doosra, but Ajmal is quite different from them. He tends to bowl the Doosra from around the same line,  on or just outside the off stump, which makes it tougher for the batsmen to pick him up. And his teesras, deliveries that don’t turn after landing but gives the feeling that they will turn, have simply been a weapon of destruction. Even the best in the business in tackling the spinners have found themselves at bay while facing Ajmal.

Saeed Ajmal with his charismatic mystical bowling has given new energy to cricket by sparking creativity and has kept boredom at bay. Like Muralitharan, Ajmal is showing that greatness is by no means incommensurate with unorthodoxy. Like his mentor, Saqlain Mushtaq, the street had been the school for Ajmal. The unorthodox killer weapons of Ajmal originated on gravel or concrete or rough matting wickets and not from scholarly fields. And how well he exploits them on the cricket field is well known by the opposition batsmen, especially the English and Australians.

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There is a lot of hue and cry after his omission from the ICC’s award list. But can Ajmal be judged by an award? Or, can he be judged by the statistics? Magician Ajmal is beyond an award. He is the champion of the people. Like a fast bowler, he generates a humongous roar amongst the crowd, like a magnet he attracts the crowd in the stadium and he is still conveying the message that without an Eastern magician world cricket’s spin department can’t get a mystical or magical flavor.

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The World Twenty20 is going on in Sri Lanka. T20 cricket means the over pouring of boundaries and sixes – So monotonous! But don’t worry as Saeed Ajmal will be there to deliver us the magical falvour. Life is great when you have magic here and there, and due to Ajmal, there will be magics apart from the monotonous domination of the bat.

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