Saeed Ajmal is a Pakistani off-spinner who bid adieu to all forms of cricket on 29th November 2017 after his team, Faisalabad, were ousted from the National T20 Cup. He ended his career with a fitting 4-0-13-1 but, unfortunately, those figures were not enough to get his team over the line.
A career which spanned nearly 10 years witnessed plenty of ups and downs and during his stay in the team, he made Pakistan win a number of matches with his off-spin, doosra and teesra.
Let’s take a look at his overall career in numbers:
ODIs: vs India at Karachi, 2008
T20Is: vs Australia at Dubai, 2009
Tests: vs Sri Lanka at Galle, 2009
Over the course of 35 Test matches, Ajmal picked 178 wickets at an average of 28.1 and strike rate of 65.1. He registered his career-best bowling figures in an innings against England when he recorded 55/7 at Dubai in 2012. In 2011, Ajmal was the highest wicket-taker in Tests with 50 scalps in that calendar year.
While representing Pakistan in ODIs, he picked up 184 wickets in 113 matches at an average of 22.72 and strike rate of 32.6. His best figures in ODIs came against India when he picked five wickets for a mere 24 runs in 2013. Surprisingly, he never got a single Man of the Match award in his ODI career that lasted 118 matches. In 2013, Ajmal was the highest wicket-taker in ODIs with 62 wickets in a calendar year.
In T20Is, Ajmal was an influencer and a captain’s delight. He was usually used during the latter part of an innings to control the run flow at the death.
He took four wickets for 19 runs against Ireland in 2009 to register his career-best T20I figures. In 2009 and 2012, Ajmal was the highest wicket-taker with 19 and 25 wickets respectively.
Ajmal’s favourite opposition was Sri Lanka. He picked 66 and 36 wickets against them in Tests and ODIs respectively. In T20Is, he removed 17 Australian batsmen to become the leading wicket-taker against them in the format.
Better stats than his counterparts:
The only right-arm off-spinner to take more wickets than Ajmal during the time he plied his trade was Graeme Swann who got 221 wickets in 53 matches in comparison to Ajmal’s 178 scalps in 35 matches.
Most Test wickets between 4 July 2009 and 18 August 2014:
1. James Anderson – 252 in 62 matches
2. Rangana Herath – 224 in 43 matches
3. Graeme Swann – 221 in 53 matches
4. Stuart Broad – 218 in 57 matches
5. Dale Steyn – 213 in 42 matches
6. Saeed Ajmal – 178 in 35 matches
Most ODI wickets between 2 July 2008 and 19 April 2015:
1. Lasith Malinga – 204 in 131 matches
2. Mitchell Johnson – 185 in 116 matches
3. Saeed Ajmal – 184 in 113 matches
4. Nuwan Kulasekara – 156 in 138 matches
5. Shahid Afridi – 156 in 134 matches
Among bowlers who picked at least 85 wickets during the aforementioned period, Ajmal’s average of 22.72 was second only to Ajantha Mendis’ 21.95. Moreover, Ajmal’s economy was a miserly 4.18 which was by far the best.
Most T20I wickets between 7 May 2009 and 24 April 2015:
No bowler picked more wickets than Ajmal (85) during this tenure in T20Is. The second on the list is Umar Gul with 63 scalps while Shahid Afridi is third with 62 wickets. Among bowlers who picked at least 50 wickets during this period, Ajmal’s average of 17.83 was second to Ajantha Mendis’ 16.30. However, in terms of economy, his 6.36 was second to none.
Pakistan are yet to find a replacement for Ajmal. His departure has left a void which has not been filled yet. However, the maestro has declared his intent to discover an off-spinner of his class through his academy in Faisalabad.