Shannon Gabriel trying to battle it out, Mohammad Amir steams in, gets the ball to rip through the defenses and uproots the stumps. And, with this sixth wicket to the innings, Amir scripts history and records his finest performance in an innings in Test cricket. His figures of 6 for 44 surpassed his previous best figures of 6 for 86 comprehensively. He celebrated with immense joy and kissed the turf in elation. It has been a tough time for Amir in Test cricket since his return. It was a milestone for Amir to achieve after the infamous Lord’s Test back in 2010. For any cricketer, a fifer is no less than a wish come true in Test cricket and to record his finest performance is a gift straight from heaven.
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) April 23, 2017
It has been a tough time for Amir in Test cricket since his return. It was a milestone for Amir to achieve after the infamous Lord’s Test back in 2010. For any cricketer, a fifer is no less than a wish come true in Test cricket and to record his finest performance is a gift straight from heaven. When Amir took the field, he had his share of success in bits and pieces but failed to live up to his standards. He did well in England and in the UAE against West Indies along with a decent New Zealand tour but there was nothing substantial and needed a push.
Amir needed a remarkable outing under his belt after a torrid time in Australia. And, the first innings against West Indies has provided him with one. As always, he was quick with magnificent control over his line and length. And the fact that four out of six dismissals were clean bowled speaks volume about his accuracy. Amir is the kind of a bowler, who could win matches single-handedly, well capable of conjuring two back-to-back wickets out of thin air.
After winning the toss, Pakistan opted to field first. Mohammad Abbas drew the first blood in the form of Craig Brathwaite and put Pakistan on the back foot. Few overs later, Amir reaped fruits for the hard work. Shimron Hetmyer was trying to rescue the Pakistani ship and trying to get his eye in when Amir ripped through his defences and cleaned him up with a beauty. This was just the glimpse of the upcoming storm for West Indies, as Amir had a lot stored in his artillery.
At 24 for 2, West Indies were in deep trouble but it was only going to get worse with Amir in command. It was a brilliant move by Pakistani skipper Misbah-ul-Haq to keep Amir an extended run, which eventually paid off. Shai Hope has had played 20 deliveries till now for his couple when Amir got the better of him. Amir set him up beautifully for the one, which nipped back in and hit the off-stump to end Hope’s miserable innings. This wicket was a testament to what Amir is made of, as he produced one with his guile.
West Indies were in all sorts of trouble at 32 for 3 against the pumped Pakistani bowlers. Wahab Riaz added to West Indies’ misery by scalping Vishaul Singh’s wicket for nine. Kieron Powell stood like a rock at the other end and looked determined despite wickets falling like nine pins at another end. He wasn’t providing any room for error and confronting the Pakistani bowlers with confidence. On 33 off 71 deliveries, Powell was lured into a full delivery by Amir, and went for the drive. The ball slightly swung away from him and took a healthy edge straight into the hands of Younis Khan at second slip. Amir had his third and West Indies in hot water at 71 for 5. Not many would have thought that the home team would cross the 200-run mark after being in such a precarious situation.
Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich turned out to be flesh in Pakistan’s bowling thorn as the resisted well and accounted for 118-run partnership between them. Chase stepped up with a tenacious 63 while Dowrich contributed with his determined 56 and help West Indies fightback. Yasir Star did a commendable job in sending both the set batsmen in two consecutive deliveries. The tail was wide open and Amir was all set to clean them up.
On most of the occasions, the tail could be difficult to get away with. And West Indies proved it in this innings but, Amir is one bowler who can get rid of it in a span of few overs. After a solid partnership between Skipper Jason Holder and Devendra Bishoo, West Indies started to see a ray of hope in getting to a challenging total but Amir splashed waters over it. After removing Bishoo for 28, caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed, the left-arm pacer ensured West Indies didn’t build another partnership.
Alzarri Joseph was cleaned up for a duck as Amir claimed his fifer after which the incessant rain played the spoilsport. When play resumed, Amir got the job done for his side by scalping Gabriel’s wicket and derailing West Indies for 286. This outing will certainly bolster Amir’s confidence and help him do well in the games to come. One can expect Amir to bag more wickets in the series as he is already off to a good start.
Pakistan have lost some precious, lucrative and fruitful years of Amir and this could well be the push-over for him in Test cricket. Pakistan came out hard with the bat in first innings and posted 407, gaining a healthy lead of 121 runs. With West Indies already into the second innings, a lot of Pakistan’s success will depend on how their bowlers fare. Amir will have a crucial role to play and with Champions Trophy being around the corner, this tour could well be the breeding ground for him to prepare for the big hunt.