Cricket: Mohammad Amir back in the spotlight

By David Leggat

Mohammad Amir returns to international cricket. Photo / AP
Mohammad Amir returns to international cricket. Photo / AP

Expect the spotlight to remain on Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir for much of their tour of New Zealand.

Amir, one of three players jailed over spot fixing during a test in England in 2010, is back in the national team for the first time. They start their tour with the first of three T20 internationals at Eden Park on Friday.

The 23-year-old's only comment yesterday upon arrival was that he hoped to prove himself in New Zealand.

"I will try my best," the gifted left armer said.

Team manager, Intikhab Alam, said Amir had "settled down into the team very nicely and he is very keen and excited to get on the field and do well".

It has not been an altogether smooth re-entry for Amir. He has had to overcome reluctance from some teammates to share a dressing room with him after his reintroduction to Pakistan cricket.

However New Zealand are happy to play against him, bowling coach Dimitri Mascarenhas said.

"He's done his time and been cleared to play. We'll just get on with it. We know he's a very good bowler and another guy we are going to have to deal with," he said.

Amir toured New Zealand in 2009 as a 17-year-old and in 14 tests has taken 51 wickets; in 15 ODIs he's taken 25 wickets at 24 apiece; while his T20 record is impressive, 23 wickets in 18 games at 19.

Look for sharper, smarter work with the ball from New Zealand's bowlers around the final stages of Pakistan's innings in the three T20s coming up.

Mascarenhas made the point yesterday that while the overall work had been pretty impressive, there was still tidying up needed.

Sri Lanka took 41 off the last five overs in Mt Maunganui last week -- in fact they took 54 off the 13th to 16th overs -- while Trent Boult, Mitch McClenaghan and Adam Milne went for 34 off the last three at Eden Park on Sunday.

It didn't matter in the end, after Martin Guptill and Colin Munro's blitz batting, but there are sure to be times at the world T20 in India in March when it will.

"Death bowling is the toughest thing going around, and as we saw when guys are in you can get hurt at the death," Mascarenhas said.

Variety is essential, and left arm swing bowler Trent Boult was full of slower balls on Sunday to try to break the batsmen's timing.

His last two overs went for 31, as Angelo Mathews took toll of Eden Park's short, straight boundaries.

Mascarenhas said seeing the bowlers deliver in match situations was pleasing.

The squad: Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham (first game only), Colin Munro, Corey Anderson, Ross Taylor (second and third games only), Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Mitch McClenaghan, Trent Boult.

- NZ Herald

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