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Saqlain: A bowler has to out-think batsmen

Saqlain Mushtaq

London: Saqlain ‘Saqi’ Mushtaq, who took close to 500 wickets in Tests and ODIs for Pakistan, spoke to The Telegraph, at Lord’s, on Friday.

The 37-year-old has settled down in Leicester, where he runs an academy.

Excerpts...

On being the inventor of the doosra...

(Laughs) It's good that somebody from Pakistan gets the credit. Achchi baat hai ki log yaad karte hain. I’m happy that it has caught on and worked well for many bowlers.

Becoming a trendsetter...

The need to do something different started it all off. A bowler has to out-think batsmen... Imran Khan had the lethal in-dipper, Abdul Qadir a deadly googly... Even I wanted to be remembered for something unusual.

Beginnings of the doosra...

I began experimenting with a table tennis ball on our terrace in Lahore... Once I mastered that, I began attempting the doosra with a cricket ball. Initially, it was tough and parts of the body would ache. So, I had to work on my body too.

Best exponent of the doosra...

Right now, it’s Saeed Ajmal. Whoever uses it successfully is the best exponent. That’s the way I see it.

Ajmal being hugely successful...

Saeed’s greatest strength is that he’s a quick and eager learner. He constantly wants to improve. Attitude bahut achcha hai.

Interacting with Ajmal...

Occasionally. Phone par baat ho jati hai.

Having worked with Sunil Narine...

Narine’s record in limited overs cricket, particularly T20s, says everything... As for Test cricket, he’s probably got to work on temperament. A spinner needs to have the temperament of a spinner.

His association with the West Indies Cricket Board...

As you know, as a consultant, I was there in Bangladesh for the World T20... I was invited for the recent series against New Zealand, but I couldn’t go because of personal reasons. Maybe I’ll come to India later this year. I’d like to.

Being a big supporter of Harbhajan Singh...

Harbhajan’s been a champion bowler and done so much for India... He’s only 34 and is young enough to make a comeback. It’s a wish of mine that Harbhajan returns to international cricket. I have nothing against (Ravichandran) Ashwin, though.

Own career ending rather abruptly...

I had an injury... But, yes, those who do well for their country deserve to go out in an appropriate manner. Having said that, what God wills is most important... Jo uparwala chahe, woh hi hota hai.

Batsman who challenged him the most...

Ek naam kaise loonga... Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from India... Sri Lanka’s Aravinda de Silva... Steve and Mark Waugh from Australia... The West Indies’ Brian Lara... Quite a few, really.

Finally... Qualities needed by spinners...

Spinners shouldn’t have the fear of being hit... Temperament, therefore, is important... They must also be willing to learn... Clearly, self-belief is a factor. A big factor, really.