The rehabilitation of Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Amir is to take another step forward today, with one-day captain Azhar Ali welcoming him into the side for the series against New Zealand.
Ali, who takes over the captaincy from Shahid Afridi for the 50-over game, initially refused to play alongside Amir, who is making his return to the international scene after a prison term and five-year ban for spot-fixing.
However, on the eve of the first ODI against New Zealand in Wellington, Ali said he had talked to Amir and aims to “get the best” out of the 23-year-old quick bowler if he starts.
“We have moved on. We are united and looking forward to the challenge,” Ali said as the team practiced in blustery conditions yesterday. “Whatever my stance was, my job is to lead and keep harmony in the dressing room.”
Pakistan have a strong squad of quick bowlers to choose from with Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali also in the mix.
“Obviously we will try to put a combination together which suits these conditions and the wind factor. We’ve been practicing bowling into it, everyone is ready,” Ali said.
New Zealand had no problems with Amir’s return.
All-rounder Grant Elliott saw the “trampoline” effect imposed by the giant Irfan as probably more of a concern. At about 2.13m, Irfan is one of the tallest bowlers ever to play Test cricket and the left-armer’s height posed problems for the batsmen.
“It’s like batting on a trampoline. It’s a different proposition,” said Elliott, who expects a lot of bounce in the Basin Reserve wicket.
India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows the introduction of broadcast technology has enhanced the viewing experience for fans, but the skipper has called for restraint after the overhead “Spidercam” interfered with play in Saturday’s one-dayer against Australia.
Virat Kohli upper-cut John Hastings in the 19th over of India’s innings, but it was declared a dead-ball after hitting the camera.
India chased down a 331-run victory target to end their losing streak, but Dhoni warned that such interference could affect the outcome of tight contests.
“I am quite a traditional guy,” he said after the tourists avoided a whitewash by winning the fifth and final ODI. “Anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don’t like it.”
“It all started right from the Twenty20 where people would be like: ‘Why don’t you wear a mic?’; ‘Why don’t you wear a camera?’”
Dhoni said the camera, which travels along cables and gives a bird’s-eye view of the action, had to be used more carefully.
“I always feel there is always a need for a balance. At the end of the day, it’s a spectators’ sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can really matter,” he said. “Especially when it’s a 310-320 game, those four runs can be crucial.”
On a lighter note, he said there should be some form of penalty for Spidercam if it gets in the way.
“Everyone gets penalized, why not have the same system for the Spidercam? Say: ‘Okay, if you get hit, $2,000 per hit.’ Let’s make it interesting,” he joked.
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