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16 July 2024

Amir on top of the world despite Pakistan defeat


Pace spearhead Mohammad Amir soaked up the adulation from Pakistan fans as he roared to the top of the World Cup bowling charts with career-best figures against Australia on Wednesday.

Amir was back in Taunton, in southwest England, where he made his return to first-class cricket three years ago following a ban for spot-fixing.

The 27-year-old was a rising star in world cricket when his career came to a stunning halt in 2010 after both he and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were caught bowling no-balls on the orders of then Pakistan captain Salman Butt as part of a newspaper sting.

The trio all received five-year bans from cricket and jail terms, taking a huge chunk out of the left-arm paceman's career.

The intervening years have not been easy for Amir and he almost missed what is his first World Cup after taking just five wickets in 14 matches before a recent one-day international series in England.

He did not bowl in the rain-ruined first match of that bilateral series against England and missed the last four games with chicken pox. England won the series 4-0.

Now he is back with a bang, taking five for 30 in his 10 overs on Wednesday to improve on his previous best figures of 4-28 against Sri Lanka a decade ago.

With the crowd chanting "Amir, Amir, Shabash" (come on) from the stands in Taunton, he delivered two maiden overs in his first spell as Australia openers Aaron Finch and David Warner played and missed.

Amir conceded just 11 runs off his opening four overs and then returned to snare Australia captain Finch before taking the wickets of Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc.

His efforts helped peg Australia back to 307 but that ultimately proved too much for Pakistan, who lost wickets consistently during their reply to slip to a 41-run loss - their second defeat of the World Cup.

Australia century-maker Warner hailed Amir, describing his second spell as "fantastic".

Amir's haul against Australia took him to 10 wickets for the tournament after three matches at an average of 12.30 and an impressive economy rate of 4.73.

'Pumped up' 

Last week Amir told AFP how he was thankful he was for the backing of Pakistan's passionate supporters

"It's really amazing, I mean the crowd support," Amir said. "We have so many Pakistani fans at all England grounds and when they shout my name it pumps me up."

Amir was left out of Pakistan's preliminary squad for the World Cup but he made it into the final 15 and has proved his worth from the start of the tournament in England and Wales.

His World Cup debut was a rare Pakistan highlight after they slumped to 105 all out against the West Indies, with Amir taking 3-26 in a seven-wicket loss at Trent Bridge.

He was among the wickets again at Trent Bridge, but this time in a winning cause, with 2-67 as Pakistan shocked tournament favourites England last week.

Five-star Amir strikes in World Cup after Warner's ton for Australia

Mohammad Amir took a one-day international best five for 30 as Pakistan bowled Australia out for 307 in a World Cup match in Taunton on Wednesday.

David Warner made 107 - his first international century since he completed a year-long ban for ball-tampering.

Australia were set for a huge total while Warner and captain Aaron Finch (82) were sharing a first-wicket stand of 146 - the highest partnership for any wicket at this World Cup to date.

But left-arm quick Amir, on the ground where he returned to first-class cricket in England in 2016 after completing a spot-fixing ban, dragged Pakistan into the game.

His figures surpassed his previous best of 4-28 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2009 and are the best in the tournament so far.

Amir ended the innings with an over to spare when tailender Mitchell Starc holed out.

Both Warner and Steve Smith, also returning from a year-long ban for ball-tampering, had been jeered by fans in previous group matches.

Pakistan fans largely heeded a pre-match appeal from captain Sarfaraz Ahmed not to boo the pair, preferring to roar chants of "Amir! Amir!" as he ran in.

Amir was on target right from the start after Sarfaraz won the toss on an overcast morning at southwest county Somerset's headquarters.

He started with a probing maiden - one of two in an initial four-over spell that cost a mere 11 runs.

Finch should have been out for 26 when he edged Wahab Riaz only for first slip Asif Ali to floor a head-high catch

He was dropped again on 44 when wicket-keeper Sarfaraz could not hold a tough chance following an edged cut off Mohammad Hafeez's second ball.

Finch cashed in, hitting off-spinner Hafeez for two successive fours as he completed a 63-ball fifty.

The skipper then hoisted Hafeez for two legside sixes in as many balls.

But Finch gave his wicket away when he miscued a big shot immediately upon Amir's return only to miscue, with Hafeez taking a fine catch running back from cover.

Finch and Warner's stand surpassed the 142 shared by Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan against South Africa.

Warner completed his 15th one-day international hundred when an outside edge off Shaheen Shah Afridi flew past slip Asif for his 11th four.

He reached his hundred off 102 balls, including one six.

A joyful Warner leapt in the air in celebration.

But he was out soon afterwards, caught at deep point by Imam-ul-Haq off Shaheen, having gone past fifty for the third time in four innings this World Cup.

Smith (10) holed out off Hafeez, with frontline batsmen Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey all falling to Amir.

Australia openers survive testing spell from Pakistan's Amir

Australia survived a probing opening spell by Mohammad Amir to reach 76 without loss off 13 overs after being sent in to bat by Pakistan in a World Cup match at Taunton on Wednesday.

Roared in by chants of "Amir, Amir" from the Pakistan fans in the crowd, the left-arm quick was on target right from the first ball of the match, beating Australia captain Aaron Finch's outside edge.

That first over was a maiden and Amir bowled two in a four-over spell in which he conceded a mere 11 runs.

Finch should have been out for 26 in the 13th over when he edged Wahab Riaz, one of three left-arm quicks in the Pakistan side, only for first slip Asif Ali to drop a head-high chance that burst through his hands before going for four.

At the end of the over, Finch was 35 not out and left-hander David Warner 33 not out.

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed decided to give his bowlers first use of a green-tinged pitch under overcast skies.

But Shaheen Shah Afridi, drafted in as an extra seamer after Pakistan dropped leg-spinner Shadab Khan, was not as accurate as fellow left-arm quick Amir.

His first two overs cost 24 runs, with Finch pulling a short ball for six and Warner also cashing in with a pulled four when Afridi failed to pitch up.

Reigning champions Australia are looking to bounce back from a 36-run loss to India - their first defeat of this World Cup - with Pakistan keen to build on a win over England after their last group match, against Sri Lanka, was washed out.

Pakistan bowl against Australia in World Cup match

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed decided to give his bowlers first use of a green-tinged pitch on an overcast morning after winning the toss in their World Cup match against Australia at Taunton on Wednesday.

Pakistan brought in an extra paceman in Shaheen Shah Afridi and dropped leg-spinner Shadeeb Khan in the only change to the side that bounced back to beat England by 14 runs after they started the tournament with a seven-wicket defeat by the West Indies.

Pakistan's last group match, against Sri Lanka, was washed out without a ball bowled.

Australia made two changes from the side that lost to India by 36 runs at the Oval on Sunday - the reigning champions' first defeat of this tournament.

Top-order batsman Shaun Marsh replaced injured all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, out with a side strain, and Australia opted to play an extra seamer in Kane Richardson, with leg-spinner Adam Zampa dropped.

"It's a fresh pitch, with grass on it and there is a little bit of moisture around," said Sarfaraz. "Unfortunately we didn't play in the last game but we've had three days of hard practice."

Australia captain Aaron Finch said he would also have chosen to bowl had he won the toss.

"In one-off games against teams like this, you have to expect the best of the opposition," he said. "I think there'll be swing in the air and a little bit of seam today."

Pakistan were set to wear black armbands as a mark of respect for former international Akhtar Sarfaraz and umpire Riaz Uddin, both of whom died recently.


Australia: Aaron Finch (capt) David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wkt), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt/wkt), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Umpires: Nigel Llong (ENG), Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)

TV umpire: Ian Gould (ENG)

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)