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    Mushtaq defends Ajmal, Rehman after poor show in first Test

    Karachi: Pakistan's spin bowling coach, Mushtaq Ahmed has defended the performance of spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman in the ongoing first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

    Mushtaq, who has worked as spin bowling consultant with the England team before joining the Pakistan team, said Pakistan was playing a Test match after a six months gap and that made a huge difference to the bowlers.

    "Spinners need to get into a groove and find their rhythm and this has not been possible for our spinners as they haven't played a test for six months now," said the former test spinner.

    Mushtaq also blamed the pitch for the struggle that the bowlers had to face in the first Test so far.

    "There is nothing in the pitch for the spinners so it has been a long struggle. But I am confident the more tests Saeed and Rehman play and even our other bowlers they will find their rhythm and start bowling much better," he added.

    Incidentally, Pakistan last played a Test also against Sri Lanka in January in Sharjah.

    Mushtaq, who took charge of the Pakistani bowling department in June, said it was not easy for the bowlers when they were asked to bowl on a flat wicket after playing their first Test in six months time.

    The first test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has been a high-scoring affair so far with Younis Khan scoring 177 for Pakistan with Kumar Sangakkara also producing an innings of 223 on Saturday before the Lankans declared their innings.

    Ajmal took five wickets for 166 runs in 59.2 overs and Rehman 1 for 123 in 39 overs, while before them off-spinner Perera took five for 137 and Herath snapped 3 for 116 runs in the Pakistan first innings.

    The form of Ajmal, the premier bowler for Pakistan, has been the subject of some discussion in recent times and again yesterday some former players felt he looked tired and stale while bowling in the Sri Lankan innings.

    But Mushtaq defended Ajmal's performance pointing out he was also unlucky as he beat the bat several times.

    "He still has this ability to bamboozle the batsmen and many batsmen have still not read through his variations. I don't think there is any need to be concerned about his form.

    And the fact is that in world cricket Sangakkara perhaps has always played him the best," Mushtaq said. The leg spinner promised the bowlers will be seen in better form and take more wickets as they played more Tests.

    But Pakistan's former test captain, Muhammad Yousuf cautioned the batsmen to apply themselves and not take the Sri Lankan bowlers lightly on the final day of the first test.

    "Herath and the other bowlers could pose problems because it is a last day test pitch so our batsmen need to ensure they are not hiccups," he said.