At Eden Park in Auckland last month, Mohammad Amir was booed as he returned to international cricket after five years. On Saturday, at Sher-e-Bangla stadium here, the Pakistan fast bowler was serenaded with ‘Amir-Amir’ chants. It was not quite the redemption after the spot-fixing punishment. But the 23-year-old deserved the accolades.
It was a fantastic spell of fast bowling. Defending a small total, Shahid Afridi bowled Amir through and the 23-year-old justified his captain’s faith.
In the end, it didn’t prove to be enough as Virat Kohli stood tall and guided India home. But Amir, too, was spoken about a lot after the match. What a pity that a bowler of his ability missed international cricket because of his own failings.
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis agreed. “Yes, it was his own fault (and) one shouldn’t cry on that. But he is definitely world-class . He is coming back and coming stronger and stronger. He is getting better and better. He is going to be an asset for Pakistan in the next few years,” he said.
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MS Dhoni, too, was full of praise. “Amir is one bowler who bowls that fuller length. (Mohammad) Sami is another one. Other than them, the other two fast bowlers don’t bowl too full and don’t swing it too much. So I felt that that the opening spell was very crucial for us. It was the most difficult. In T20s, you are only allowed four overs. So the captain is also under pressure to decide whether to bowl him out or keep him for later.”
India-Pakistan contests always come with a touch of added emotion. Good performance in this game can help people forget a lot of things. As former Pakistan bowling coach had said the other day that Amir has to win back the trust of his team mates. through his performance. Today he put a big step in that direction.
On a green top at Mirpur, the 23-year-old came up with a breathtaking four-over burst, which had two key tenets: Old-fashioned swing, and raw pace. This was enough to humble India’s famed top-order. Here is a synopsis of Amir’s incredible four overs.
First over: Amir begins by bowling a sharp toe-crushing yorker that darts back into to hit Rohit on his toe on the front foot. Amir appeals, Rohit survives, only just. He then follows it up with another quick delivery, hurled at over 140kmph. This was little back off a length, but it curls back in prodigiously to crash into Rohit’s pads. The umpire gives him out. After two outstanding deliveries, Amir bowls one wide outside Kohli’s off-stump, inviting him to go for the drive. Kohli, gets an outside edge. He then nails Rahane with another vicious inswinger, bowled at 148kmph. In the fifth bowl, he gets one to slant off the seam. Just enough to let Suresh Raina play an ugly poke.
Second over: In his second over, Amir mixed his lengths cleverly and notched his pace up by a couple of yards, to keep both Raina and Kohli guessing. He started off with a fast good length delivery, which Raina gets an inside edge to get off strike. Two balls later, Raina gets another good length delivery, which slants off the seam. An indecisive Raina shuffles in his crease, and in an attempt to flick it to the on-side scoops a catch to mid-on. Pace, and prodigious movement does the trick for Amir.
Third Over: By now, Amir was bowling at full tilt, hitting close to 150kmph mark with ridiculous ease. Up against Kohli, he tweaked his plan a bit.
The sharp late inswingers, which he used to dismiss Rohit and Rahane were banished. Instead, he now began to angle it across the right-hander, drawing a tentative Kohli forward.
Fourth over: Amir is still sharp, but in an attempt to angle it across, he gets a bit of tap from Kohli in his final over. He finishes with figures of 4-0-18-3.
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