File photo of Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal. (Getty Images)
Karachi: The showdown is still some days away but Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal is already geared up for the clash against India in the upcoming Champions Trophy, saying the match is as big and as eagerly anticipated as the final.
The India-Pakistan clash is scheduled for June 15 in the event starting June 6. The wily Pakistani spinner insisted that playing a match against India is always fantastic. "The atmosphere, wherever we play, is always electric; and I'm sure the fans lucky enough to be at Edgbaston and all those watching the telecast around the world will not be disappointed by this match. It's like a mini-final within the tournament," he said.
Ajmal pointed out that both sides are very strong and at the end of the day, the team which handles the pressure will be victorious. "We have the psychological advantage having defeated India in their own backyard in the one-day series and I'm confident that we can defeat them in Birmingham," he said in an interview to a Pakistani website.
Asked about the absence of big names from the Indian team, Ajmal said it was pretty normal for the players to come and go. "Big names are replaced by lesser known players who then turn into big names and then they get replaced. The cycle of cricket goes on. No cricketer lasts forever and no cricketer has a God-given right to be picked again and again. If a player is out of form or struggling for form, then it's only right that they are replaced by a player who is in form," he explained.
Speaking on the continued exclusion of Pakistani players from the Indian Premier League, Ajmal said there was no hard feeling among the players. "It's not as if we are being stopped from playing cricket everywhere around the world. Whether Pakistani cricketers are allowed to play in the IPL is a matter for those who organise the tournament and not for the cricketers.
"If the organisers invite us to play in the future, we will play, but if they don't invite us, then good luck to them. Of course I'd like to play in the IPL, but it's a decision that's out of my hands at the moment," he said.
Ajmal, meanwhile, revealed that he had been told by the Pakistan Cricket Board to lose some weight. "Well I was given a training and dietary plan by the PCB which I've had to follow. Generally it was okay, but I had to stop the paranthas and eating the sweet meats which was the toughest part of the routine. I love my paranthas and sweet meats, but as a professional sportsman, you have to make some sacrifices sometimes," he said.