`It`s a battle between Pakistan`s bowling and India`s batting`
Mohali: Pakistan`s experienced spinner Saeed Ajmal feels the high-voltage India-Pakistan semifinal match would be a battle between their in-form bowling attack and the hosts much-heralded batting line-up.
Ajmal, who has featured in only two of Pakistan`s seven matches in the World Cup, said his team has specific plans for Indian batsmen.
"We`ve got a few plans up our sleeves. I see the match as a battle between our bowling lineup and their batting lineup. We know that our bowling is our strong suit and their batting is their stronger suit," Ajmal told a cricket website.
"Our bowlers have been in excellent form during the World Cup. Shahid (Afridi), Umar (Gul) and Hafeez have been bowling very well and the other bowlers have done a good job in supporting them. It`s been a combined effort by the Pakistan bowlers and we are hopeful that it will continue in the next match.”
"If Pakistan bat first, we will try to reach 300 and if India bat first then we want to try and restrict them to under 250," he added.
Ajmal said the clash between the arch-rivals is as good as the Ashes and it would be a dream for him to play in the semifinal against India.
"It`s a huge match for everyone, the players, the fans, everyone involved in it. A World Cup semi-final can only be surpassed in one day cricket by the World Cup final itself. The added spice to the occasion of course is that the opponents are India and that the match is in India itself," he said.
"For the Australian and English players the Ashes is a big series and for Indian and Pakistani players, the matches against your arch-rivals have a special meaning. The whole world will be watching and following the match and it should be a fantastic occasion. These are the sort of matches that you look forward to playing in and dream about."
The 30,000 capacity crowd at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here is likely to put huge pressure on the Pakistani side but Ajmal said his team will not get distracted and won`t allow the spectators to get into their skin.
"My philosophy is simple. It doesn`t matter where you are playing or who the opposition is, if you let the crowd or atmosphere disrupt your performance, then you don`t deserve to be playing at the highest level of cricket," he said.
"You strive to play for your country, you work so hard in domestic cricket to get the chance to play for your country and it would be irresponsible to succumb to pressure or nerves.”
"I don`t think we`ll be worried by the crowd or let the nerves or pressure of the match get to us. We`ll be fully focussed on the cricket itself, remembering our game-plan, taking note of suggestions from the skipper and determined to win the match," he added.
Pakistan had a tumultuous build-up to the World Cup where they had to battle allegations of spot-fixing and infighting in the team and Ajmal said his team had a point to prove in the World Cup.
"We knew that many had written us off before the tournament and said that we would make it to the quarter finals at best. We wanted to prove those people wrong and the best way to do that was to let our cricket do the talking," Ajmal said.
"We beat Sri Lanka, we defeated Australia but the job is only half done yet, we want to go further in this tournament. We`ve been working so hard on areas of our game that previously have been weak.”
"We`ve put extra emphasis on our fielding and it`s paid dividends. Our coaches have said to us all that even if you have a bad day with the bat or the ball, you can still make a difference in the field, by saving runs, by inflicting a run out or by taking a catch in the field," he added.