A modern-day offspinner who relies on the doosra as much as on other variations of flight and speed, Saeed Ajmal made a relatively late entry into international cricket, at the age of 30, but is doing his best to make up for lost time, quickly moving up to be regarded among the best spinners in the game today. Ajmal didn't play his first Test till almost 32, but showed immediately that he belonged, taking five wickets in his debut Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2009.
His golden run, though, started in 2011, when he showed superb control over all his variations - the offspinner, the doosra and the subtle changes in speed and flight. Unlike many offspinners who change their line when bowling the doosra, Ajmal tends to bowl the offspinner and the doosra from around the same line - on or just outside off - which makes it much tougher for batsmen to pick his variations. In 2011 he was the leading wicket-taker in Tests, with 50 in eight matches. But the best series of his young career came early in 2012, when he destroyed the batting line-up of the best team in the world, England, taking 24 wickets in just three games at 14.70. In the process, he clearly won the battle of offspinners against the highly rated Graeme Swann.
However, Ajmal first made his mark in international cricket in ODIs. He was called up for the 2008 Asia Cup, and soon after he had the Australians completely bewildered in the ODI series in the UAE; he gave away few runs and his doosra was almost unreadable. The ICC called him for his action, though it was cleared soon after. The pressure didn't get to him and immediately after, he played a crucial role in Pakistan's drive to the 2009 World Twenty20 title, regularly bottling up the middle overs with Shahid Afridi. He ended the joint second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament, with an exemplary economy rate as batsmen around the world struggled to get a read on his bag of tricks.