Mohammad Amir had played against India before. But on Saturday he almost stole the show with a burst of three wickets in his four overs upfront.
Pakistan had as many as four pacers but a meager target to defend. Yet, Amir made a match of it, swinging the ball at a pace of 147 km/hour and was unplayable. First ball he almost had Rohit Sharma but umpire ruled it not out. That did not discourage him
Second ball he had the best batsman of the format: Leg-before. Both deliveries came sharply in. Virat Kohli came and got off the mark with a thick edge to third man.
Fourth ball Amir had the dependable Ajinkya Rahane, again trapped leg-before with a sharp slanting delivery.
Amir said he was expecting the ball to do something. “We had watched the last match and knew that the ball is going to swing. With such a low total we needed wickets upfront and Shahid bhai told me to go all out. There was no other alternative, so I did that. It worked. I felt I had Rohit on the first ball. It was incredible to get two in the first over,” Amir told Cricwizz in an exclusive talk.
It was the first instance that India’s openers went without scoring in a Twenty20 game.
Amir’s s fifth delivery, first to newcomer but one of the most established limited over format batsman Suresh Raina, was another peach of a delivery. Raina did everything to edge him to the keeper but it eluded.
His second over was as lethal as the first. Kohli was almost trapped in front of the wicket off the third delivery. The ball tracker suggested it was an umpire’s call. Had umpire upheld that appeal, Pakistan would have won the game as Kohli rescued India with a brilliant knock of 49. Ironically, Kohli was given out leg-before when he didn’t look out.
Amir nearly stole the show before Kohli came in the way. But it was a matter of great pride for Amir.
“I am on cloud nine,” said Amir. “There was no plan because when Pakistan and India play it’s a battle of nerves and everyone is focused. We all know that if you perform well in the match against India your stardom, your value rises and every fan takes that as something special. I played against India in the 2009 Champions Trophy and got the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar (at Centurion) and Yousuf Pathan. That game we won and I was praised by everyone.”
That same second over brought Amir the wicket of Raina, flummoxed by the swing of the ball and looped a catch to mid-on. Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi had no other option but to bowl all four overs from the young demon on the trot as he needed wickets.
Unfortunately, no other bowler could match Amir and Kohli guided India to victory.
Showing remarkable grace, as he always does off the field, Kohli praised Amir.
“I would like to congratulate Amir for the way he bowled; I actually congratulated him while he was bowling. It was amazing to play such a spell. I have said this before, he is a world class bowler.”
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was also full of praise. That praise, Amir said, is encouraging.
“My work is to play cricket and legends have praised me in the past. I take that as very encouraging and positive and if they are praising then it’s a big challenge for me as well as that adds to my responsibility that I am worth that praise.
“Virat is a very good player and his words will help me do better and better. It was great to bowl at him and he once again proved that he is a world class player, ordinary players would have succumbed to that pressure of three wickets in three overs but not Virat.”
“It was unfortunate that we didn’t have too many runs to play for. Had we got 110 it would have been our match but I am very happy that my performance helped us avoid a one-sided defeat. In fact we gave a scare to India.”