London: Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir will put back the 2010 spot-fixing scandal behind once he makes a come back to the scene of crime in Thursday with first Test against England at Lord’s.
Six years ago, during a Lord’s Test against England, Amir and Pakistan new-ball partner Mohammad Asif deliberately bowled no-balls on the instructions of captain Salman Butt as part of a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.
All three received five-year bans from cricket and, together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms. Such was the impact of the controversy, the fact teenage sensation Amir took six for 84 in the first innings of that match has largely been forgotten.
For all his time out of cricket, the 24-year-old retains the ability to swing the ball late at sharp pace, as he showedwith a first-innings haul of three for 36 in Pakistan’s tour opener against Somerset. It means an England side missing all-time leading injured wicket-taker James Anderson and sidelined all-rounder BenStokes, should not have things all their own way as they did in the preceding 2-0 home series win over Sri Lanka.
While the likes of former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja have expressed doubts about the wisdom of letting Amir backinto international cricket, players on both sides have accepted the situation.
“We could talk or moan about it and have our opinions but the fact is it is not going to change him opening the bowlingat us on Thursday or playing against us throughout this (four-match) series,” said England batsman Joe Root.
Amir is far from the only threat in a Pakistan bowlingline-up also featuring fellow left-armer Wahab Riaz, SohailKhan and leg-spinner Yasir Shah. The key to the series could lie with both teams’top-order batsmen.
England were repeatedly bailed out of early collapsesagainst Sri Lanka by in-form middle-order batsman JonnyBairstow. Pakistan have a strong middle order in skipper Misbah-ul-Haq fellow veteran Younis Khan and the in-form Asad Shafiq.