Pakistan’s top spinner Saeed Ajmal hopes to play in next year's World Cup after making his competitive return on Friday, three months after being suspended by the International Cricket Council for an illegal bowling action.
The 37-year old Ajmal played for Pakistan A against Kenya in Lahore, bowling six overs and taking one wicket with a remodeled action.
"I was playing a proper match after nearly three months but I felt comfortable with my corrected action,” Ajmal told reporters.
"I didn't hold myself back and bowled all my deliveries and I am still very hopeful my action will be cleared before the World Cup because it is an event I want to be part of very much," he added.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is leaving no stone unturned to get Ajmal’s action cleared by the ICC to ensure his availability for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that starts in February.
The off-spinner, who was deadly with his doosra deliveries in his 35 Tests and 111 one-day matches before his suspension, stuck to bowling off-breaks against Kenya.
He will play another match against Kenya on Saturday.
Iqbal Qasim, a member of the PCB bowling action review committee, which is monitoring Ajmal’s progress, said they wanted to see if he remained as effective as before with his altered action.
“The idea behind selecting him is to get him ready for the ICC bowling action review test before the World Cup,” he told Reuters.
"He definitely has improved his action and the more he plays we think he will loosen up and get better," he added.
Pakistan’s all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is also currently suspended from bowling in international cricket by the ICC due to an illegal action.
Both the off-spinners have been Pakistan’s top bowlers in limited overs cricket in the last two years.
Image: Saeed Ajmal
Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images