Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal, second left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar during their Asia Cup cricket match in Dhaka, Bangladesh. AP/Aijaz Rahi
It seems India are going England's way in handling Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal. Like England, India too have raised questions about the off-spinner's action, but not officially, with the International Cricket Council.
During their Asia Cup victory over Pakistan on Sunday, the television camera briefly showed India coach Duncan Fletcher discussing Ajmal's release with Sachin Tendulkar. Skipper MS Dhoni too was all ears. On Monday, India team manager Arindam Ganguly confirmed to HT that Ajmal's action has been discussed but it was unlikely that an official complaint would be made. Colin Gibson, ICC's Head of Media and Communications, said: "India has not filed any official complaint, not that I know of."
Former England skipper Bob Willis had raised serious doubts about Ajmal's action during their 0-3 whitewash in Tests against Pakistan in the UAE this year. And coach Andy Flower, although not complaining officially, did not deny he had doubts about Ajmal's action while leaving it to the ICC.
India are treading a similar path. It was learnt that the matter has been verbally put across to ICC CEO, Haroon Lorgat, who is here.
Tendulkar was dismissed by Ajmal when he closed the face of his bat and was caught off the leading edge at slip. In the 10th over, Ajmal had beaten Tendulkar and appealed for stumping. Back in the World Cup, he had survived a close leg-before shout, again off a doosra. After his stupendous innings of Sunday, Virat Kohli admitted: "You can watch the videos but still to play him is tough because he can turn both ways. He is perhaps the best spinner in the world right now."
Ajmal is Pakistan's most potent threat, and like Muttiah Muralitharan bowls from the back of his hand. Understandably, his action would time and again be questioned.
The 34-year-old had himself stoked the controversy when he told reporters recently that the ICC has allowed him to straighten his arm 23.5 degrees because it was slightly deformed following an accident. As per rules, the arm can straighten only up to 15 degrees. Ajmal's action came under suspicion for the first time in 2009 but was cleared after remedial work by bio-mechanists.