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June 13, 2019

Amir proves class is permanent


June 13, 2019

TAUNTON, England: Mohammad Amir watched in anticipation as Shoaib Malik adjusted himself to grab hold of a skier from Mitchell Starc at long on, writes Khalid Hussain.

It was the last ball of his spell and Amir knew he would finish with a five-for for the first time in his ODI career. The seasoned Malik didn’t make any mistake and Amir finished with highly impressive figures of 5-30 in Pakistan’s key World Cup clash against Australia.

Back in the ICC Hospitality area in Atkins Pavilion at the County Ground, Amir’s wife and daughter cheered following the wicket perhaps not even fully aware what the five-wicket haul meant for Amir, who has been going through a lean patch in the lead up to the World Cup.

The left-armed pacer wasn’t even picked in Pakistan’s squad for the World Cup by national selectors. His indifferent form was the reason why chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and fellow selectors overlooked him while finalising the 15-man Pakistan squad for the World Cup.

But Inzamam and his fellow selectors knew that Pakistan’s attack would be toothless without Amir. So they selected him in the ODI series against England keeping the door ajar for him fo an inclusion in the World Cup squad. Amir missed that series after catching chickenpox. His hopes of making a World Cup debut in England this summer seemed over. But so unimpressive was Pakistan’s bowling performance in the 4-0 rout against England in the ODI series that the selectors were forced to include Amir in Pakistan’s World Cup line-up. It turned out to be a rare good call from the selectors.

With his 5-30 against Australia, Amir has catapulted himself t to the top of the wiket-takers’ table in the World Cup. He now has 10 wickets from three finished games and is easily the biggest gun in Pakistan’s arsenal as they shift their focus towards what is seen as the biggest game of the World Cup – the June 16 clash against old foes India at Old Trafford.

Amir bowled a match-winning spell when Pakistan last faced India – in the ICC Champions Trophy final — at The Oval two years ago. The way India are playing, the only way for Pakistan to counter them is for Amir to shine again. The way he bowled against Australia, he might well do that in Manchester as well.

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