Mohammad Amir will always be remembered for bowling Pakistan to victory against India in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy in England. The Indian team could never fight back after losing Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli to the left-arm pacer. And Amir believes the clash between the arch-rivals in the T20 World Cup on Sunday will once again be the game that will create heroes as it doesn’t get bigger on the cricket pitch than an India-Pakistan encounter.
Speaking to ANI on the eve of the much-anticipated game, Amir threw light on rising to the challenge against India, the issue with the current crop of fast bowlers, bowling in shorter formats of the game like T10 leagues — he plays for Bangla Tigers in Abu Dhabi T10 — and also who he would pick between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
“As a cricketer, I always believe it is not about India-Pakistan, it is about cricket. I have always enjoyed the tough moments of the game. I love rising to the occasion and when you do well there, the moments stay with you in your career. Performing in big matches gives you the ultimate high,” he smiled.
Asked if this has helped him succeed across formats? The Bangla Tigers pacer said: “Dubai tracks tend to be on the slower side and as a bowler, I don’t play with the batsman, I play with the wicket. If I see the wicket and feel the slower ball will hold the key, why should I bowl at 140kph? Maybe bowl at 120kph and pick wickets. As a bowler, you need to see what the wicket demands. Once you learn that, you can succeed in any format.”
“I always believe in checking the wicket after reaching the ground. As a bowler, you get an idea after the first two balls whether it will swing or not. If you need more time than that to understand what the wicket is doing, you don’t deserve to be at that stage. When I feel the wicket is assisting swing, I bowl full. My success ratio is because I have bowled according to the demand of the wicket. I don’t see if it is Kohli, Rohit or Smith batting, I see what the wicket demands and bowl accordingly.”
Talking of Rohit and Kohli, the two will hold the key for India throughout the T20 World Cup. But personally, for Amir, he picks Kohli over Rohit as he believes the India skipper loves winning big games.
“I will always go with Virat because just like me, he also likes pressure situations. I have always done well in pressure conditions thanks to God and if you take out Virat’s stats, you will see he always performs well in pressure situations. I love this about him because he performs when under pressure,” he pointed.
Asked about the current generation pacers, Amir feels they are too focused on bowling fast. “There are many shots and survival is very difficult for a bowler. The current generation of batsmen have a lot more shots in their bags and as a bowler, you need to get smarter. Bowlers nowadays are struggling mostly because the moment they bowl at 150kph, we tend to take them to the sky by praising them.”
“Pace is important and does matter, but you cannot forget your skills in trying to bowl fast. They don’t work on swing and variations. If you bowl fast on true wickets, you will get hit. I always carry two plans. The first is to get the ball to swing. But Plan B should be stronger and when the ball isn’t swinging, that is when the next plan comes in. I bowled to Kohli with a scrambled seam in the Champions Trophy and it worked. You need to use angles and wrist positions when the pitch is true. Pace with smartness is the key.”
And the pacer feels reading the wickets have helped him even in the T10 format. “Dubai tracks tend to be on the slower side and as a bowler, I don’t play with the batsman, I play with the wicket. If I see the wicket and feel the slower ball will hold the key, why should I bowl at 140kph? Maybe bowl at 120kph and pick wickets. As a bowler, you need to see what the wicket demands. Once you learn that, you can succeed in any format,” he said.
In fact, Amir feels T10 is the best format for cricket to be played in the Olympics. “Considering the time it takes, T10 can be the best option in the Olympics. First thing is to get the process right. Just like a journalist needs to prepare to become one, a player also needs to prepare as per the format. Like when I go into a T10 game, I know I have 12 balls and the batsman won’t stop. So when you train, the mindset is to escape being thrashed. The idea is to be economical as you rarely get 10 wickets in a T10 game,” he signed off. (ANI)