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January 9, 2015

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Misbah & Co jump in to help ‘shattered’ Ajmal

KARACHI: Saeed Ajmal might be out of sight but he is certainly not out of mind.
The banned off-spinner couldn’t make the cut for Pakistan’s 15-man World Cup squad because of an International Cricket Council (ICC) suspension but he remains a close buddy to his team-mates who have to flown to England to support a fund-raiser for Ajmal’s cricket academy in Faisalabad.
Well-placed sources told ‘The News’ that Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is one of the four Pakistani players who have left for England to be a part of the fund-raising event.
The other three players are pacer Wahab Riaz, Fawad Alam and Ahzar Ali.
“Even though a World Cup training camp is just around the corner, Misbah and the other three players accepted an invitation to be a part of the fund-raiser as a mark of support for their former team-mate,” a source said. “Ajmal is going through a troubled phase and Misbah and the other players have tried to ease his anguish by being with him for the fund-raiser,” he added.
Ajmal, one of the top bowlers in the world, was supposed to play a key role in Pakistan title campaign at World Cup 2015 to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. But he was suspended last September after world cricket authorities concluded that his bowling action was illegal.
The 37-year-old has undergone remedial work but after failing to successfully remodel his bowling action Ajmal had to withdraw from the World Cup.
Sources close to Ajmal told ‘The News’ that the player has been left completely “shattered” by the setback.
“Ajmal knew that this would most probably be his last World Cup which was why he was really looking forward to giving his best in it and help Pakistan win the title,” a source said. “But the fact that Ajmal cannot take part in the World Cup has left him shattered and heartbroken. You will see him these days with either a dazed look or a lifeless smile, something that’s a totally new addition to his otherwise

happy demeanour,” he added.
According to the sources, Misbah and the other three players will return home ahead of a five-day training camp to be held at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore from January 13 to fine tune preparations for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, sourced said that Ajmal is now focusing on raising funds for his cricket academy in Faisalabad. The academy has been closed temporarily because of threats from extremists.
Agencies add: According to reports, Ajmal has decided to shut his academy temporarily after he met with the deputy commissioner of Faisalabad and the vice chancellor of Faisalabad Agriculture University on whose land the academy is located.
The government has issued warnings about possible terrorist threats to educational institutions in the country after the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 16 in which around 132 schoolchildren were killed in cold blood by attacking militants.
Ajmal said that presently they were around 198 boys and girls and even disabled cricketers attending the academy regularly while they were another 80 who came on and off for coaching classes.
Ajmal said the academy represented a big dream for him as he has already spent around 30 million rupees on it and provides free coaching to the youngsters.
The bowler has also been embroiled in a dispute with the University over the lease period of the land on which he has built the international standard academy but said it was close to being resolved after he met with the Punjab government officials.

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