Pak bowler Amir set to make int’l comeback

Auckland, January 14

The eyes of the cricket world will be on Pakistan in New Zealand on Friday with Mohammad Amir set to make his international comeback after serving a jail term and five-year ban for spot-fixing.

The 23-year-old is expected to be named in the starting lineup for the tour-opening Twenty20 when Pakistan will pit their hostile bowling attack against a New Zealand unit brimming with form batsmen.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said he expected the young quick to cope with the intense scrutiny he will come under when he starts to bowl. “It is hard to exactly tell how the whole thing is going to come up but my experience says that he is a smart kid, even at the age of 18 he was smart then,” Waqar said. “He knows what he is doing and he is ready for that challenge.”

Amir was banned for five years in 2010 after being found guilty of spot fixing by deliberately bowling no-balls in a Test against England. His return to the world stage adds to a bountiful pace for Pakistan, which includes Anwar Ali, Aamer Yamin, Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz.

Riaz said Amir’s in-swing ability with the new ball added to a range of hostile options. “He’s getting a chance. He’s a great fast bowler, he’s proved that in the past. It’s time for him to prove here as well. And he will prove it,” Riaz said. “With him there’s less pressure on me as a bowler, because I’m getting his support. Umar Gul is back and is doing really well. It’s going to be a good combination for Pakistan.”

Pakistan appear to have a much stronger bowling attack than the recently departed Sri Lankans, although opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad said Kiwis had to take a lot of credit for the way they batted. New Zealand will take on Pakistan in three T20s and three ODIs.