Taunton: Mohammad Amir will hope to enjoy another landmark occasion at Taunton when Pakistan face Australia there in a World Cup match on Wednesday.
The group fixture at southwest county Somerset’s headquarters sees Amir back at the ground where he made his return to first-class cricket in England three years ago.
Amir was the rising star of world cricket when his career came to a stunning halt during a Lord’s Test in 2010 after both he and new-ball partner Mohamed Asif were caught bowling no-balls on the orders of then Pakistan captain Salman Butt as part of a newspaper sting operation.
The trio all received five-year bans from cricket and jail terms.
That same 2010 season had seen Amir produce a superb display of swing bowling in taking three for 20 as Pakistan dismissed Australia for just 88 on the first day of a ‘neutral’ Test at Headingley.
Those skills remained intact as Amir marked his 2016 return to the first-class game in England in 2016 with a haul of three for 36 against Somerset at Taunton.
All three wickets — including that of former England opener Marcus Trescothick — owed much to late swing.
The intervening years have not been easy for Amir, however, and he almost missed what is his first World Cup after taking just five wickets in 14 matches before a recent one-day international series in England.
Pakistan have won just one of their last 14 matches against champions Australia, the five-times World Cup winners. That victory was inspired by Mohammad Hafeez’s 72 at Melbourne in January 2017. And it was Hafeez’s 84 that laid the foundations for an impressive total of 348 for eight against England. “We have not won many matches against Australia but we had not won too many against England either,” said Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“But we have finally beaten England and that has given us a lot of positives. We will go with the aggressive approach we showed against England,” he added.
The wicket-keeper expects to face an Australia side stung by a 36-run loss to India last weekend — their first defeat of this World Cup following wins over Afghanistan and the West Indies. “We know Australia will try to come back and with (Steve) Smith and (David) Warner back they are at their best again. We respect all our opponents and are ready for them,” said Sarfaraz.
Australia will hope opener Warner, for all he has already scored two fifties this World Cup, is back to his destructive best at Taunton.
Warner’s 56 off 84 balls against India — of which 48 were dots — helped contribute to a slow run-rate that left Australia with too much to do at the end of their innings....