Auckland – The eyes of the cricket world will be on Pakistan in New Zealand on Friday with Mohammad Amir set to make his international comeback after serving a jail term and five-year ban for spot-fixing.
The 23-year-old is expected to be named in the starting line-up for the tour-opening Twenty20 when Pakistan will pit their hostile bowling attack against a New Zealand unit brimming with form batsmen.
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said he expected the young quick to cope with the intense scrutiny he will come under when he starts to bowl.
“It is hard to exactly tell how the whole thing is going to come up but my experience says that he is a smart kid, even at the age of 18 he was smart then,” Waqar said.
“He knows what he is doing and he is ready for that challenge.”
Amir was banned for five years in 2010 after being found guilty of spot fixing by deliberately bowling no-balls in a test against England at Lords.
His return to the world stage adds to a bountiful pace armoury for Pakistan, which includes Anwar Ali, Aamer Yamin, Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz.
Riaz said Amir’s in-swing ability with the new ball added to a range of hostile options.
“He’s getting a chance. He’s a great fast bowler, he’s proved that in the past. It’s time for him to prove here as well. And he will prove it,” Riaz said.
“With him there’s less pressure on me as a bowler, because I’m getting his support. Umar Gul is back and is doing really well. It’s going to be a good combination for Pakistan.”
Pakistan appear to have a much stronger bowling attack than the recently departed Sri Lankans, although opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad said Thursday New Zealand had to take a lot of credit for the way they batted.
“No doubt, they are playing wonderful cricket at the moment,” he said, referring to New Zealand’s 2-0 sweep in the Twenty20s against Sri Lanka following their 3-1 domination of the one day internationals and 2-0 Test victory.
“We are all aware of the style that they are playing is awesome to see actually, but we have to match them, and the boys are very prepared and ready to put up a good show,” he said.
The Eden Park ground has small boundaries which makes it ideal for the big hitters at the top of the New Zealand order.
Against Sri Lanka on Sunday, when New Zealand won by nine wickets with 60 balls to spare, Martin Guptill scored 63 off 25 deliveries, Colin Munro hit 50 off 14 while Kane Williamson added 31 off 21.
“They are playing without any fear and they have no issues with their places,” Shehzad added.
New Zealand will take on Pakistan in three Twenty20s and three ODIs.