Saeed Ajmal played his first international match only at the age of 31, but since then, he has become one of the leading bowlers in the world, taking wickets in a rush in all forms of the game. At the ICC World Twenty20, Ajmal is going to be one of the men the Pakistan team will depend on to take the team to a second title. Wisden India caught up with Ajmal to discuss his career so far, and the road ahead. Excerpts:
You started your international career rather late. Why did that happen?
If you look at the Pakistan team, there has never been a place in the team for another spinner. Saqlain Mushtaq performed for a long time. After that, Danish Kaneria and Shahid Afridi took over. Even Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez bowled their full quota of overs. When the chance came, thankfully, I was able to capitalise. Misbah-ul-Haq has supported me right from the beginning in international cricket, and even before that. It was he that got me into the national team. Dav Whatmore, our new coach, is a very nice person, and has also been very supportive.
Which cricketer do you look up to as a benchmark?
In Test cricket, I look up a lot to Kumar Sangakkara. I love his approach towards the game. I get a thrill bowling to him. The shorter format of the game allows you to pick up so many things from a variety of players. Anyone can come and play a short innings or bowl a good spell to change the course of the game. For that day, he is the hero.