I found Muttiah Muralitharan easier to play than Saeed Ajmal: Ian Bell

The 38-year-old recalled the struggle he had to go through against Pakistan off-spinner in 2012 series

I found Muttiah Muralitharan easier to play than Saeed Ajmal: Ian Bell PHOTO: AFP

Veteran England batsman Ian Bell has revealed that former Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal troubled him more in international cricket than Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan.

Bell was part of the England team, which got whitewashed three-nil by the Men in Green in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2012. Ajmal was adjudged player of that series for bagging 24 wickets, which also included four dismissals of Bell.

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While speaking on Islamabad United’s YouTube channel, Bell recalled the struggle England batsmen had to go through against Ajmal during the aforementioned series.

"I found Muralitharan, who has 800 [Test] wickets, easier to play than Ajmal. Everyone has their individual feelings and all bowlers are different. I felt the longer I was at the crease, I could start to pick Murali. Whereas, with Ajmal, the longer I was there, the worse it used to get," said Bell.

"The quality of spin that we played in that series was right up there with some of the best that I have played. Ajmal was at his absolute peak. As a batting unit, we really struggled to pick him. [Abdur] Rehman bowled beautifully as well. Even speaking to KP, who doesn’t admit very often, I don’t think he had a lot of answers in that series at all," he added.

The 38-year-old also picked Australia’s legendary duo, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, along with Ajmal, as the toughest bowlers he faced during his playing career.

"Whenever I am asked this, I say Warne and McGrath together because cricket is all about partnerships. If someone is bowling well at one end but badly at the other, then there is no pressure on the batsman," he said. "But if I had to pick only one, I would still say Ajmal in the UAE was as hard as it gets.”

“I think he got me out in the nets as well, during my time with Islamabad United," he added.