No issues playing against Amir – Mascarenhas

‘[Mohammad Amir] has done his time and been cleared to play. So we’ll just get on and play against him’ – Dimitri Mascarenhas © AFP

New Zealand have no qualms about playing Mohammad Amir in the T20 series that begins on Friday, bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas has said. The series marks Amir’s return to international cricket following a five-year ban for his role in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal.

Amir has faced challenges in being accepted back into the Pakistan side, with ODI captain Azhar Ali even attempting to quit over Amir’s inclusion, before the Pakistan Cricket Board intervened. New Zealand, however, will focus on countering Amir’s cricketing skill rather than his past, Mascarenhas said.

“We leave the decisions up to the administrators,” he said. “We know that Amir’s a very good bowler and he’s another guy we’re going to have to deal with. It’s pretty much as simple as that for us.”

Amir had also faced a visa hurdle, as he had served three months in jail after being convicted of spot-fixing. He eventually received permission to enter New Zealand however, and arrived there on January 11.

“He’s done his time and been cleared to play,” Mascarenhas said. “So we’ll just get on with it and play against him.”

Following a 2-0 series victory over Sri Lanka, New Zealand’s batsmen will have to retune their approach to meet the challenge the likes of Amir will present, Mascarenhas said. Amir and Wahab Riaz – both left-arm quicks – are expected to play significant roles in the T20 and ODI series.

“They’ll have a lot of left-arm bowlers so that will be a different challenge,” Mascarenhas said. “Sri Lanka played one left-armer on Sunday, but other than that they had all right-armers. Pakistan will have a few guys who are a little bit faster as well, which will be a different challenge for our batters.”

New Zealand’s own attack will be without Tim Southee for the T20 series, but it has been bolstered by Grant Elliott, who took 4 for 22 in the second T20 against Sri Lanka, after having successfully defended 13 runs from the final over of the previous game. Mascarenhas suggested Elliott’s slower, cannier style of bowling may be of use during the World T20 in India.

“If Grant gets it right, he’s got all the variations,” Mascarenhas said. “He’s not very fast, but he can bowl at the death as we saw. He just needs to adapt. He’s been around for a long time, and he knows his role. He probably should have got the man of the match award in the second match.

“You don’t want Grant Elliott bowling the last over of the innings, but if he’s called upon to do that, hopefully he can do it.”

With two batsmen having struck fifties off 17 balls or fewer at Eden Park, Mascarenhas said Martin Guptill and Colin Munro were helping fill the firepower void left by Brendon McCullum’s effective T20 retirement.

“The challenge for us is that when Guppy does fail, it’s up to someone else to step up. It’s good to see Colin do it at international cricket. We know how destructive he can be domestically.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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