Islamabad: Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal has recovered from a suspected hernia scare and lost five kilograms in weight to prepare for next month's Champions Trophy in England.
The 35-year-old Ajmal felt pain in his lower abdomen after Pakistan's series against South Africa in March. "I am fine now, but I will go for another checkup when the team goes to England," Ajmal said in the northern town of Abbottabad where Pakistan is training for the one-day tournament. "I have also reduced weight and have cleared the fitness test."
The training camp has been set up in the much cooler weather of Abbottabad so that Pakistan can get used to possible weather conditions in England. "It's a good thing to have camp here because there is bounce in pitches - similar to the ones we likely get in England," Ajmal said.
Ajmal, who has 125 ODI wickets at an average of 22.69 runs, often surprises batsman with his 'doosra' - a delivery that spins away from the right-handed batsman. Unlike at the last World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, where Ajmal had warned batsmen of another mystery delivery, the offspinner said he won't be trying anything new in England.
"There will be no new variety and I am working hard on the varieties I already have in my armoury," he said.
Pakistan is in Group B along with West Indies, South Africa and arch-rival India. Defending champion Australia, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka form Group A.
Ajmal thinks spinners could play an important role in the Champions Trophy although he won't be surprised if the wickets are tailor-made for batsmen in England. "I think 90 per cent of the wickets around the world are batting wickets and green wickets are only 10-15 percent," he said. "I think the ICC will also make batting wickets in England."
Ajmal said he was working hard to counter the likes of South Africa's AB de Villiers, West Indian Chris Gayle and India's Virat Kohli in Pakistan's group.
"Spinners have an important role in all formats of the game," he said. "I bowl in 'death overs' and I have to work hard because batsmen do hard hitting at the end of the innings.
"We are also looking at the videos (of opposition players) and I hope if a spinner bowls well he could succeed in English conditions."
Pakistan selectors axed experienced Shahid Afridi after his below par performance in ODIs over the last year and Ajmal said the allrounder's absence will be felt.
"He is a legend and no doubt we will miss him," Ajmal said. "But hopefully we have enough bowling resources like (Mohammad) Hafeez and (Abdul) Rehman to do well in England."