Impressed with his overall performance in the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 in United Arab Emirates, veteran Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal has said that Indian opener Rohit Sharma has been absolutely brilliant for his side and has performed exceptionally well as a batsman and leader in absence of Virat Kohli.
Rohit has been tactically sound and has led from the front as a batsman in the tournament so far, where he has had scores of 23 vs Hong Kong, 52 and 83* against Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively in India's campaign so far.
Speaking on India's performance so far, Ajmal told Hindustan Times, “With Hardik Pandya being injured, Ravindra Jadeja came in against Bangladesh and look how well he adapted. The all-rounder starts off with 4 wickets in the game. This is what makes you sit up and take note. If you notice, India haven’t looked to play attacking cricket with bat in hand." he added, "They have waited to launch an onslaught and have kept wickets in hand. The openers have given the team a good start in all the games. Rohit has been top-class both with bat and as captain. And now you have an MS Dhoni who looked in good form against Bangladesh."
On the bowling front, Ajmal thinks, "If you come to the bowling attack, you have Jasprit Bumrah who has been exceptional. Then you have someone like Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Bhuvneshwar can bowl with both the new and old ball. Thanks to these two India’s death bowling has become strong. The spinners have also done an excellent job except for Yuzvendra Chahal,"
Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams from their last meeting in the competition, Ajmal also talked about the upcoming India-Pakistan Super 4s clash and said, “They(India) have the experience and if you look at the Pakistan team, you only have a Shoaib Malik who is a senior pro. India, on the other hand, have 4/5 players who have been in the team for a while now. Yes, Pakistan might have beaten India in the final of the Champions Trophy, but that doesn’t take away the fact that India have experience on their side,"
Ajmal, who wants to see a better effort being put by the Sarfraz Ahmed led Pakistan, further added, “I have just one message for them and that is for them to play positively. They shouldn’t think too far ahead and when you have some quality bowlers in your ranks, you just need to stay positive and look to have the right attitude. In the last game, India won one sided and when the team does that minus Virat Kohli, that is unacceptable. A good contest is what is expected, after that if you lose well bad luck."
“Losing with dignity is one thing and getting thrashed is another." Ajmal reiterated, "I feel that Pakistan have a better bowling attack than India’s and it is the batting which let the team down in the last game. If the batsmen can give the bowlers something to play with, things can change." before he emphasized, "You have to realise that India have the batting to score 300. On the other hand, the Pakistan attack is one which can keep them under check. But, even then, the batsmen have to put at least 250 on the board if they bat first,”
India and Pakistan clash for the second time in the tournament on Sunday, September 23.