Pakistan bowler’s dubious catch sparks debate

KARACHI: Legendary paceman Wasim Akram cautioned against discounting Mohammad Amir ahead of next month’s World Cup, saying Pakistan’s pace spearhead would return to form following a disappointing string of performances at the crease.

Wasim Akram seen sharing some tips to Sri Lankan players.

The 27-year-old Amir was left off Pakistan’s preliminary World Cup squad but has a chance to force his way back into the final 15 if he does well in the five-match one-day international series against England starting from May 8.
All teams have until May 23 to change their World Cup squads. Missing the upcoming World Cup would likely serve as another crippling setback for the young bowler’s career after he missed the tournament in both 2011 and 2015 due to an embarrassing five-year ban over match fixing.

Since returning to competition, Amir has fallen into a rut after guiding Pakistan in a dramatic win over India in the Champions trophy final in June 2017 — with just four wickets in 14 matches. However, Wasim said he still believed Amir could stage a comeback.

“We can’t discount Amir from the World Cup,” Wasim told AFP. “Amir would have been my first choice for the World Cup considering English conditions where he performs well.” Wasim went on to say that Amir had both youth and the experience of competing at the highest levels of the sport on his side, including international Tests and English county cricket.

“I am confident that he will do well once his rhythm is back,” said Wasim, a veteran of five World Cups in 1987, 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003. Pakistan’s preliminary World Cup squad is largely comprised of young players, with only a handful of veterans-Sarfraz and Haris Sohail, who played in 2015, as well as Shoaib Malik, who played in 2007, and Mohammad Hafeez, who took part in the 2007 and 2011 tournaments.

Wasim added that big events are won with a mixture of youth and experience. “I am all for youth but experience has no substitute, so we should mix youth with experience,” said Wasim who guided Amir during the Pakistan Super League earlier this year.

“He is a good learner so I hope things will come good for him sooner than later because Pakistan team needs him.” Pakistan is set to play three one-day matches against county teams before taking on England in the five-match ODI series from May 5.

The squad will then kick off two warm-up World Cup games against Afghanistan on May 24 and Bangladesh on May 26, before taking on the West Indies in their first World Cup match in Nottingham on May 31. All 10 teams will play each other in the first stage, with the top four playing the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Pakistan bowler Hasan Ali was at the centre of controversy after he claimed a catch despite apparently dropping the ball in their opening tour match against Kent. The tourists comfortably beat the county side by 100 runs after amassing 358 for seven in their 50 overs on Saturday.

Kent were 176-3 in reply in the 30th over when Alex Blake, on 89, skied a return catch to Ali, who was bowling. Video footage emerged on Monday that showed the seamer appeared to floor the catch.

But Ali continued his celebration as the ball lay on the ground and the batsman was not given a reprieve by the umpire.

The laws of cricket state that a catch is completed only when “a fielder obtains complete control over both the ball and his/her own movement”. The image of Pakistani cricket was damaged by a spot-fixing controversy that blighted their England tour in 2010, with three players handed bans from the game.

Pakistan announced yesterday that veteran batsman Shoaib Malik has returned home to deal with a personal issue but is expected to rejoin the team in 10 days’ time. “The PCB will not be making any further comments and fully expects all concerned to respect Shoaib’s privacy,” the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement.

Pakistan are playing one Twenty20 match and five one-day internationals against England before the start of the World Cup in late May. – AFP