Mohammad Amir was a treat to watch at Lord’s….
The joy of watching a fast bowler spilling fire with the red ball and making the batsmen look like sitting ducks cannot be described in words. In cricket, there are very few things as mesmerising as this. Such sights were quite often witnessed in the opening Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s. Pakistani seamers dominated the game and were equally backed by their batsmen to register a much-needed win. Mohammad Abbas and Mohammad Amir stood out with the ball and ran through the English line-up in the second innings.
Pakistan won the game comfortably by nine wickets and have now taken an unassailable lead of 1-0 in the two-match series. Their bowlers wreaked havoc in the first innings, derailing England for a modest total of 184 after which the batsmen came out hard and took a massive lead to put the hosts on the back foot. England did have some loopholes in their line-up, which Pakistan exploited brutally. One could have expected them to make a comeback in the second innings, when batting was easier, but it wasn’t to be. Abbas and Amir turned out to be too hot for English batsmen to handle.
Amir has some mixed memories of Lord’s; the menacing left-arm pacer was a sensation a few years back in 2009-10 periods. As an eighteen-year-old, Amir was hogging all the headlines constantly for his fiery pace, control and deadly swing. At a tender age of 18, Amir became the youngest cricketer to have 50 Test scalps to his name. He was tipped to be the next big thing in Pakistan cricket, but the match-fixing scandal at the very same venue against the same side back in 2010 changed his fortunes for the next few years. He was sent behind the bars by an English court and faced a ban of five years by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Before that forgettable incident, Amir had 51 Test scalps from 14 games at a staggering average of just over 23. His return has not been that impactful, picking 54 wickets from 18 games at a slightly expensive average of 33.11. But one should also remember, a lot of catches have been dropped off Amir’s bowling since his return, which has certainly affected his numbers.
Amir did shrug off a lot of bad memories of the spot-fixing scandal in the four-match series two years ago. He was forgiven and received a warm welcome. And today, he just made some good memories once again at Lord’s.
In the first innings, England were trying to drill their way back into the game and Alastair Cook was leading the fightback. The southpaw looked in fabulous touch after a very long time, when Amir cleaned him up with a peach of a delivery. Amir only had a solitary wicket in this innings, but a big fish without a doubt.
Amir returned with better figures in the second innings, picking four for 36 in 18.1 overs. He delivered a gem of a spell and looked on fire on Day 3. At 91 for 2, England were making a comeback and a partnership was building. Pakistan were in a desperate need of a breakthrough and Amir ensured he provided one. The left-armer was oozing with confidence and looked unstoppable. He induced an outside edge off Dawid Malan’s willow and broke the building partnership.
Amir didn’t stop there; he produced a gem to get rid of Jonny Bairstow for a duck a delivery later. Amir pitched it on a good length and got the ball to nip back in, a dream delivery for any left-arm seamer. The sight was amusing to watch, this wicket steered England in all sorts of trouble and Amir once again delivered. Amir was in the middle of such a deadly spell that it looked like England might bundle out early, but Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess resisted.
On the fourth day, Amir got rid of Mark Wood and Bess to dismantle England for 242. Pakistani batsmen got the job done and registered an emphatic victory. The onus of making a comeback is now on England and one can expect them to come out hard in the final encounter. Pakistan stand a golden chance of whitewashing England, they will be banking on their bowlers to get the job done in the second game as well. Amir has led the inexperienced Pakistani attack with example and will look to replicate it at Leeds.