Mohammad Amir picked up five wickets across his first two ODIs in five years, while conceding only 3.9 runs an over © Getty Images
Mohammad Amir claimed 5 for 67 across his first two ODIs in five years, and was described as the “pick of Pakistan’s bowlers” by Martin Guptill, but Waqar Younis believes he is still some distance from his best.
Amir’s efforts in the T20 series had been modest. A promising start in Auckland petered out to two wicketless performances in Hamilton and Wellington. But he was arguably the bowler of the brief ODI series, from either team. Trent Boult took one more wicket than Amir, but conceded runs at 5.55 an over to Amir’s 3.9.
The ODI at Eden Park saw Amir claim a wicket with his first delivery – his bouncer too quick for Brendon McCullum, who mis-hit the ball to fine leg. Amir has been breaching 140kph throughout the tour, and has also occasionally swung and seamed the ball. Movement in the air was a feature of his first spell on Sunday.
“I still feel Amir’s not at his best at the moment,” Waqar said. “I always knew that it’s going to take some time. But he’s getting there. He’s started swinging the ball back at right-handers, which I think is key for the left-arm fast bowlers. And he’s getting his pace back.”
Amir’s first spell at Eden Park was particularly impressive, as he claimed figures of 1 for 15 from five Powerplay overs, while the New Zealand batsmen reaped 37 for 0 from the five overs delivered from the other end. He raised two lbw appeals in that time, and also beat the edges of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson. Those two batsmen would go on to score more than 80 apiece, and have also been in excellent form throughout the home season.
“Amir didn’t give us too many bad balls,” Guptill said of that first spell. “He got the ball swinging, which he hasn’t done all series. It was a bit tougher today, and he bowled very well. He was definitely the pick of the Pakistani bowlers. He’s proving what a world-class bowler he still is.”
Amir’s comeback tour has drawn a mixed range of reactions from spectators and fellow players. There was rankling within the Pakistan side before the tour, but after the team arrived in Auckland, Wahab Riaz said he was glad to have Amir in the side. ODI captain Azhar Ali also later said he and Amir had “moved on” and resolved their differences.
Elsewhere, there had been warm applause for Amir in his comeback T20 match at Eden Park, but was also made fun of by some fans, and a ground announcer who played a cash-register sound effect during one of his spells. This was ostensibly a dig at Amir’s history with spot-fixing.
“There’s still a lot of pressure for Amir, playing international cricket,” Waqar said. “We’re trying to ease him into it – not expecting blasts from him. As long as he gets to his peak, when the time is right, hopefully he’ll deliver the goods for Pakistan.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo