Waqar, Afridi back Amir for strong comeback
Pakistan’s head coach Waqar Younis and Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi on Tuesday supported comeback pacer Mohammad Amir’s inclusion in the national squad for the New Zealand tour and expressed confidence that the bowler has begun to find his feet.
Ahead of the tourists’ team training which took place indoors due to rain in Auckland, Waqar and experienced skipper Afridi faced the media and unsurprisingly the majority of the questions centred around Amir.
“We are about to find out how Amir will cope with bowling under intense scrutiny. It is hard to exactly tell how the whole thing is going to come up, but my experience says that he is a smart kids and is working on his game,” said Waqar.
“He knows what he is doing and he is ready for that challenge. From what I have seen, he looks like the one but of course once he gets into the international level we will find out more.”
When asked if Amir had altered his run up to avoid any further controversy, Waqar, a brilliant pace bowler in his time, said; “I hope so. We have got to allow him to come back. We have got to think positively about him and I think the media have to be positive about him as well. He has paid his price and we are ready to take him.”
Reports from Pakistan said Amir was bowling as well as ever on return to first-class cricket last year, and the left-armer impressed in the recent Bangladesh Premier League T20 with hauls of 4-30 and 3-18.
Waqar believed that Amir is not the lightning quick he was when he burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old but he feels that there is more to come.
“He is not what you will have seen five years ago, but he is definitely there or thereabouts,” he said. “Once he starts playing at the international level you will see the best of him.”
Afridi said that Amir’s return to international cricket is good news because it is one of the world’s best bowlers coming back into the game.
“Amir is improving with every game and he is ready to return to international cricket,” he said.
“We have a group of very energetic guys,” said the skipper. “I am very confident in my boys that we are very much capable of beating any team in the world.”
Afridi, who will retire at the end of the World T20 in March, said this Pakistan side was confident of upsetting the red-hot Black Caps in the upcoming three-match T20 series and three-match ODI rubber.
Waqar said that they have watched the Black Caps demolish Sri Lanka in the recent limited-overs series. They are not focusing too much on the home side but more their own performance and look to draw on the success of the tour here two years ago.
“We have plans to keep Martin Guptill and Colin Munro quiet at the top of the Black Caps batting order,” said Waqar and added that his pace attack will test them more.
“We have plans for them, but I am not going to share them here. We have a decent bowling attack and we will try to put them under some pressure.