After the Asia Cup duel, Mohammad Amir is the latest addition to the hair-raising, heart-pumping images of Pakistan pacers breezing in. And it didn’t change much at Sunday’s practice at the Eden Garden while the likes of Mohammed Irfan and Wahab Riaz were seen bowling off shorter run-ups.
Enhanced by his lithe and wiry frame that cuts through the air, Amir looked a picture of focus as he produced deliveries at serious pace, though it was Shoaib Malik who was at the other end.
Why talk up Amir when the India-Pakistan match is six days away? First, no one seems to be able to get over those two deliveries that bamboozled Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in their Asia Cup group tie. Virat Kohli praised Amir that day but Rohit refused to read much into that exciting spell a few days later. To him, Amir is a ‘normal’ bowler. “On a given day if he is good, he is good. It is not as if he turns up and blows everyone away,” was Rohit’s assessment of Amir, who is on a comeback after serving a spot-fixing ban.
EASILY THE BEST
Shahid Afridi had no such doubts. “You should go and ask Rohit, but to me, Amir is the best. The way he’s going, he’s among the top international bowlers,” said the Pakistan skipper when asked to react to Rohit’s comments.
Amir’s return from ban has given Pakistan bowling a buzz. In an ageing line-up, he is now the strike bowler, and deservedly so. He had almost pulled off a heist against India in the Asia Cup before Kohli saw off his spell (he faced 14 legal deliveries from Amir, playing 10 dot deliveries). But that was after the left-arm pacer had rapped Kohli on the pads and induced an edge that flew through the slip cordon.
CHANGE OF ROLES
According to senior pacer Wahab Riaz, he has swapped roles since Amir’s arrival. “You have seen what Amir can do with the ball. He’s a quality bowler. He’s leading with the new ball. He’s sharp and gives that extra edge to our bowling,” said Riaz.
“Amir’s taking wickets. So my role now is to bowl within the stumps and limit the batsman. I may attack as well when they are down. If they are playing very well, I have to be the stock bowler,” said Riaz. Assisted by two young spinners, Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz, Afridi is confident about the balance in the attack.
“The combinations are working out well. Amir, (Mohammad) Irfan, Riaz... we have a great fast bowling line-up. If our batsmen put enough scores on the board, I don’t think it will be difficult. We even have two youngsters in the spin department, so it looks good,” said Afridi.
“Everyone is bowling 140 plus. Amir is swinging the ball really well. This is one of the best Pakistan bowling attacks,” said Riaz. However, the Asia Cup pitches were more pace-friendly while conditions in the World Twenty20 might be tougher. Riaz though believes the ball might reverse here. If that happens, Amir could have some more tricks up his sleeve.