London: Mohammed Amir needed a closure. The Oval gave him a perfect platform and boy he grabbed it as if there wasn’t a tomorrow. The closure was needed, more so for his fans, who over the years have loved and hated him in equal measure.
They love him for those wrists that can do amazing things with a six and half ounce of round leather ball. They hate him for wasting five precious years of his life indulging in a nefarious activity like spot-fixing, which was purely his own doing.
It’s been nearly a year and half that Amir has made a comeback into international cricket. He has had good performances, in fact a great spell against India at Mirpur in a T20 game but that was for a lost cause.
For redemption, he needed a bigger stage and a bigger occasion. And since the opposition was India and occasion was an ICC event final, Amir just couldn’t let this go.
“What I do know is that Mohammad Amir is a big-match player. I do know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs. He doesn’t shy away from pressure situations,” Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said.
“He doesn’t shy away from big games. He has got a proper big match temperament, and he showed that today on the biggest stage,” it could not have been put more aptly than how the coach summed up Amir’s performance.
It was a flat deck. The white ball has simply refused to help bowlers in this edition of Champions Trophy. But if someone is talented, his performance is not condition dependant. Shane Warne could turn his leg-breaks anywhere and Amir could make the ball talk on shirtfronts.
He was charged up and Fakhar Zaman had given him the cushion of runs which he didn’t have in Mirpur and Kolkata during those T20 matches. And then for half and hour, there was an artist at work. The 22-yard strip was his canvas and he splashed colours like never before.
It was a kind of bowling that even made ‘Sultan of Swing’ Wasim Akram feel that he is reminding him of his younger days. The first two deliveries to Rohit Sharma were angled across leaving the right-hander. The third just sharply came in. Shikhar Dhawan told Rohit not to waste a referral as Amir gave him a send-off.
The Indians fans hated it but damage was done.
In came captain Virat Kohli — India’s biggest hope. First ball, quick and world’s best batsman is beaten. He was staring at the batsman, the intensity was right up there. On a track where nothing happened for other bowlers, he could make the ball rear up, bounce awkwardly and most importantly bowl fast.