PREVIEW: Mohammad Amir has had some of the greatest and undoubtedly the worst days of his career in England — sometimes during the very same match.But fresh from helping bowl Pakistan to a crushing nine-wicket win over England in the first Test at Lord’s, the left-arm paceman hopes he can enjoy the “best memory” with a series win in the second and final Test at Headingley, starting Friday.
Amir, who burst on the world scene as a teenager, got his name on the Lord’s honours board with a six-wicket haul against England in 2010.
But in the same game at the ‘home of cricket’, Amir was caught up in a spot-fixing scandal at the which led to a jail sentence and a five-year ban.
That same season, Amir took three wickets for 20 runs in 11 overs at Headingley during a sensational bowling display as an Australia side featuring Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Steven Smith were dismissed for just 88 in the first innings of the second ‘neutral’ Test.
The match, which Pakistan eventually won by three wickets, saw Amir stake a claim to ‘The Ball of the 21st Century’ when an all-but-unplayable delivery that pitched on the middle-and-leg stump of Mitchell Johnson seamed away late to clip the top of the left-hander’s off-stump.
Amir, who helped Essex win the English County Championship last season when he also starred in Pakistan’s outstanding one-day Champions Trophy final victory over arch-rivals India at The Oval, has rarely hit those Headingley heights in Test cricket since his return to the international stage two years ago.
Amir, however, took five wickets — including four for 36 in the second innings — as Pakistan outclassed England in all areas to win inside four days at Lord’s on Sunday.
“It’s a big achievement winning in Test cricket in England against England at home,” Amir said on Wednesday.
“If we win the series I think it will be the best memory of my life,” the swing bowler added.
– ‘Block out the noise’ –
Pakistan will be forced into a change, with Fakhar Zaman set to replace Babar Azam after his fellow batsman suffered a broken arm facing all-rounder Ben Stokes at Lord’s.
England have recalled opener Keaton Jennings in place of the dropped Mark Stoneman, who managed just 13 runs in total at Lord’s.
“You will only get judged on the amount of runs you score,” said Jennings, one of Alastair Cook’s 12 opening partners in the six years since Andrew Strauss’s retirement.
England made a late addition to their squad, with uncapped left-arm seamer Sam Curran called up Wednesday after Stokes suffered a hamstring strain.
Regardless of Stokes’s fitness, England may recall all-rounder Chris Woakes, if only to bolster their fallible batting, in place of fast bowler Mark Wood.
Despite their lamentable Lord’s showing, James Anderson insisted England could bounce back by squaring the series at the Yorkshire home ground of captain Joe Root.
The team received a barrage of criticism after Lord’s but Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, said: “The outside noise is always there, and it’s a bit louder when you perform badly.
“We’ll try to block out the noise — from whoever is shouting out,” he added, suggesting a “bit of a luck” may be all England need to improve on a run of six defeats in their last eight Tests.
If England are seeking inspiration, they could look to the Headingley example of the West Indies.
Last year, the tourists suffered a humiliating innings and 209-run defeat by England in the first Test at Edgbaston, only to enjoy a five-wicket victory in the second Test as Shai Hope became the first batsman to score hundreds in both innings of a first-class match at Headingley.
England, though, might settle for one century by any member of their faltering top order, let alone two, right now.
Commentary (England innings)
24.2 M Amir to Root, Length ball around middle and off, Joe guides it to gully. Post that he signals to somebody over the sightscreen to sit down. 75/1
24.1 M Amir to Root, Starts with a length ball that lands around leg and slants away towards middle and off. Root stands tall and pushes it to the off side for nothing. 75/1
Mohammad Amir is back on for another spell.
23.6 M Abbas to Cook, On a length around middle and leg, Cook defends. A maiden from Abbas, a good one that. 75/1
23.5 M Abbas to Cook, Beaten on the inside! A touch fuller than the previous one, Cook anticipates it to swing away and goes for the drive accordingly. But the ball goes straight on and passes the inside edge of his bat. 75/1
23.4 M Abbas to Cook, This is bowled on a length that is shorter than good length. Alastair gets behind it and pushes it to the on side for nothing. Umpire Bruce Oxenford has a look in the region of Abbas’ followthrough. 75/1
23.3 M Abbas to Cook, Punched off the back foot straight to the man stationed at covers. 75/1
23.2 M Abbas to Cook, Well left! Cook leaves it on length. It is landed around middle and moves in a bit. Cook withdraws his bat to let it pass. And it does so just above the stumps for Sarfraz to dive and collect that to his right. 75/1
23.1 M Abbas to Cook, On a length around middle and off at 78.5 mph. Cook keeps it out to the off side. 75/1
22.6 F Ashraf to Cook, A bit short around off and middle, pulled away in front of square on the leg side to face the first ball of the next over. The trail now comes down to 99. 75/1
22.5 F Ashraf to Cook, Faheem lands it on a length and gets it to nip in sharply. Cook hops to tuck but fails and wears it on the thigh pad. 74/1
22.4 F Ashraf to Cook, Fuller around middle, pushed to mid on. 74/1
22.3 F Ashraf to A Cook, Ashraf now comes around the wicket and bowls it around off. Cook presents a straight blade to push it to mid on. 74/1
22.2 F Ashraf to Cook, FOUR! Cook’s balance for England in this summer has been excellent, quips Nasser Hussain on air, before Wasim Akram continues to lavish more praise on that. Such a beautiful stroke that. Ashraf lets out a full length ball slanting across the southpaw, Alastair gets his front foot nicely forward and drives it wonderfully through covers for a boundary. Moves to 30 with that. 74/1
22.1 F Ashraf to Cook, Hurled on a length around off and middle, Cook hops and pushes it towards mid off. Nothing gained. 70/1
21.6 M Abbas to Root, Aiming at the off pole on a length, Joe stands tall and defends it with a straight bat. 70/1
21.5 M Abbas to Root, Hit straight to the man at covers. 70/1
21.4 M Abbas to Root, Abbas straightens his line and gets closer to the stumps. Root shows the full bat face to block. 70/1
21.3 M Abbas to Root, FOUR! That’s twice now that Root has looked in the direction towards gully. He was standing outside the crease to negate any movement on offer. On getting the width that he desired, he just steered this one to the third man fence for a boundary. Good batting this. 70/1
21.2 M Abbas to Root, Bowled well outside off, left alone. 66/1
21.1 M Abbas to Cook, Lands it on a length around middle and leg, it seams away after pitching. Cook plays it with soft hands but the ball goes off the outer edge towards gully. The man there dives and prevents a certain boundary, though he fails to prevent the rotation of strike. 66/1
Well, Mohammad Abbas is brought on. We saw Amir rolling his arm on the field but it’s not him now.
20.6 F Ashraf to Cook, Full on the pads, clipped away through mid-wicket to retain strike. 65/1
20.5 F Ashraf to Cook, Around the good length area in line of the stumps, Cook moves back a touch and brings a straight bat down to push the ball in the direction of mid off. 64/1
20.4 F Ashraf to Cook, Full and angling away outside off, Cook lets it be. 64/1
Meanwhile, Mohammad Amir is seen warming up. Could be summoned to separate this pair of Cook and Root.
20.3 F Ashraf to Cook, Confident stride. Full outside off, driven straight to mid off. 64/1
20.2 F Ashraf to Cook, Full and outside off, Cook makes sure that the ball is not in line of the stumps and lets it go. 64/1
20.1 F Ashraf to Cook, Cook is hanging on his back foot and hence, Ashraf slides this fuller in line of the stumps. But the southpaw gets his bat down in time to negotiate that one. 64/1
19.6 H Ali to Root, FOUR! Wow! This guy can hit boundaries to all parts of the ground without being unorthodox. This time, he uses the room on offer outside off to guide it well past gully for a boundary. 64/1
19.5 H Ali to Root, Back of a length delivery outside off, Root misses the defense. The ball goes off his back thigh towards point for nothing. A muted appeal follows. 60/1
19.4 H Ali to Root, Superbly played. Root gets a stride forward as he executes a delectable cover drive. He bisects the gap between mid off and covers. The player from the former position hunts it down and keeps it down to two. 60/1
19.3 H Ali to Cook, Very full on the pads, flicked away straight to the man at fine leg. Cook is looking good so far. He got a nice half century in the first innings of the previous Test. Can he emulate or better that performance? 58/1
19.2 H Ali to Cook, Around off and middle, Alastair defends it from the crease. 57/1
19.1 H Ali to Cook, Full on off, defensively played towards covers. 57/1
18.6 F Ashraf to Root, Outside off, left alone. 57/1
18.5 F Ashraf to Root, Full outside off, pushed towards covers. 57/1
18.4 F Ashraf to Root, Hurled in line of the stumps, Joe stands tall and blocks. 57/1
18.3 F Ashraf to Root, FOUR! Lovely way to open your account. Ashraf yet again delivers it in a straight line. Root just flicks it away easily through mid-wicket. The ball speeds away to the fence. 57/1
18.2 F Ashraf to Root, Fuller on middle, driven towards mid on. 53/1
18.1 F Ashraf to Root, On a length well outside off, Root lets it go unharmed. 53/1
17.6 H Ali to Cook, That’s the area you should bowl, says Michael Holding on air. Full and angling away from Cook, it lands around middle and off. Cook had to play at that. But the ball goes past the edge of the blade before going to Sarfraz. Almost similar to the way Jennings was dismissed. A wonderful maiden over to follow the one in which the opening wicket fell. 53/1
17.5 H Ali to Cook, Pitched up to the batter, AC drives it to mid off. 53/1
17.4 H Ali to A Cook, Back of a length around middle and leg, Cook goes back to bunt it. Gets an inside edge onto his thigh. 53/1
17.3 H Ali to Cook, Around off and middle on a fuller length, Alastair presents a straight bat in defense. 53/1
17.2 H Ali to Cook, This time Cook pushes it defensively towards covers. 53/1
17.1 H Ali to Cook, Fuller in length around middle, Cook lunges and blocks it with a straight blade. 53/1
Joe Root is in next.
Time for the last drinks break for the day! England, England, England! That’s how this period of play post Tea has panned out. Cook’s opening partner, apart from his form as well, was a much debated and talked about topic in English cricket. The current pair of Jennings and the former skipper were doing well to quell those talks. Pakistan did probe around with the new ball in the first half an hour or so but post that, they couldn’t do anything significant. The wicket of the young opener just before the break should just work wonders for the Asian side.
16.6 F Ashraf to Jennings, OUT! Pakistan finally get their man. A resolute opening partnership from Jennings and Cook is broken. For England, this is the best they have seen in a long time. Ashraf comes in from over the wicket and lands it around middle and off. The ball moves away a bit and catches Jennings off guard who looks to defend it but gets an outside edge straight to Sarfraz who takes a simple catch. Now, can Pakistan build on this opening that they’ve got? 53/1
16.5 F Ashraf to Jennings, Keaton drives it to covers but straight to the man stationed there. 53/0
16.4 F Ashraf to Jennings, Jennings shoulders his arms to this one. 53/0
16.3 F Ashraf to Jennings, KJ lets the ball go outside his off stump. 53/0
16.2 F Ashraf to Jennings, Shouts of two as soon as he hits it. Faheem pitches it up, Jennings flicks it through mid-wicket in the gap for an easy couple. 53/0
16.1 F Ashraf to Jennings, Bouncer down leg, Jennings ducks to evade it. 51/0
The umpires have taken out their 8-shape gauge to check whether the ball is fine. No problem with it and the ball is given back to the bowler.
15.6 H Ali to Cook, Fuller ball in line of the stumps, Cook gives it back to the bowler. 51/0
15.5 H Ali to Cook, AC gets behind the ball and blocks it. 51/0
15.4 H Ali to Cook, Back of a length ball on middle and leg, Cook stays back and taps it to the on side. 51/0
15.3 H Ali to Cook, The batsman has driven it to mid off. 51/0
15.2 H Ali to Cook, Outside off, left alone. 51/0
15.1 H Ali to Cook, Good length ball on middle, Cook plays and misses. 51/0
14.6 F Ashraf to Jennings, The batsman shoulders arms to let that one through. 51/0
14.5 F Ashraf to Jennings, Covers the stumps and hits it to the off side. No run. 51/0
14.4 F Ashraf to K Jennings, That ball has taken the inside edge onto the pads. 51/0
14.3 F Ashraf to Jennings, Interesting leave from Jennings. This ball lands on leg, and comes back in. Keaton points his bat skywards and does not offer any shot. The ball strikes him on the back thigh pad. The players appeal but height was certainly an issue. 51/0
14.2 F Ashraf to Jennings, Presents the full face of the bat and taps it in front of him. 51/0
14.1 F Ashraf to Jennings, Back of a length ball, Jennings blocks it from his crease. 51/0
13.6 H Ali to Cook, The batsman has defended it by getting right behind the line of the delivery. 51/0
13.5 H Ali to Cook, FOUR! Authoritative! Brings up the fifty partnership between these two openers and they are really looking in good nick. This has come after 12 innings. Ali pitches it up outside off, Cook strides forward and creams it through covers. Incidentally, the last 100-run stand for the opening wicket too was stitched by these two. Can they do it again? 51/0
13.4 H Ali to Cook, Lovely ball from Ali, forces Cook to go for the drive. The ball moves away a bit and the southpaw gets beaten. 47/0
13.3 H Ali to Cook, Punched off the back foot by the batsman. 47/0
13.2 H Ali to Cook, Good leave from Cook. Ali pitches it on length, it comes back a bit and Cook watches it go through to the keeper. 47/0
13.1 H Ali to Cook, Pitched up and Cook drives it for the mid off fielder to collect. 47/0
12.6 F Ashraf to Jennings, Outside off, no trouble for Jennings as he leaves it alone. 47/0
12.5 F Ashraf to Jennings, Lands this around off, Jennings plays and misses. 47/0
12.4 F Ashraf to K Jennings, FOUR! STREAKY! Inside edge and away to the fence. Back of a length ball on middle and leg, Jennings plays a chinese cut and the ball goes over the leg pole to the fine leg boundary. The partnership now moves to 47. 47/0
12.3 F Ashraf to Jennings, Outside off, left alone. 43/0
12.2 F Ashraf to Jennings, Keaton lets the ball go outside his off stump. 43/0
12.1 F Ashraf to Jennings, Around off, Jennings looks to play this to the off side but gets an inside edge onto his pads. 43/0
11.6 H Ali to Cook, Wide and outside off, it was there to be hit. Cook cuts it well but finds the man at backward point. Dot ball. 43/0
11.5 H Ali to Cook, Gets this off the inner half towards mid on. 43/0
11.4 H Ali to Cook, Fuller this time and around middle and leg, Cook plays it to mid-wicket. 43/0
11.3 H Ali to Cook, FOUR! Misses his line and duly gets punished. Bowls this wide outside off, Cook has enough time to free his arms and cuts it through point for a boundary. 43/0
11.2 H Ali to Cook, The batsman has played that off the front foot and into the ground. 39/0
11.1 H Ali to Cook, Strays this down leg but Cook still goes after it. Does not make any contact. 39/0
10.6 F Ashraf to Jennings, The batsman gets an inside edge and the ball hits him on the pads. No damage done. 39/0
10.5 F Ashraf to K Jennings, Jeannings drives this through the covers. 39/0
10.4 F Ashraf to Jennings, Lands this outside off, easier for KJ to leave it alone. 39/0
10.3 F Ashraf to Jennings, Comes from round the wicket and serves it around leg. Jennings is beaten and the ball strikes his leg. The Pakistan players appeal but the umpire is quick in saying no. They have a chat and opt not to take it up. A good decision as the ball had pitched outside leg. 39/0
10.2 F Ashraf to Jennings, Wide outside off stump, the batsman leaves it alone. 39/0
10.1 F Ashraf to Jennings, Beauty to start with. Hurls it on a good length just wide of the off pole. Jennings looks to defend it with a straight bat but gets beaten. 39/0
Faheem Asharf is introduced into the attack to bowl from the other end.
9.6 H Ali to Jennings, Goes for the flick but misses it. The ball rolls to the leg side and they take the leg bye. 39/0
9.5 H Ali to Jennings, Jennings takes a step ahead to defend but gets an inside edge onto this pads. 38/0
9.4 H Ali to Jennings, Defended off the front foot by the batsman presenting the full face of the bat. 38/0
9.3 H Ali to K Jennings, FOUR! A bit short but outside off, Jennings who is well in control cuts it in the gap through backward point for his fourth boundary. 38/0
9.2 H Ali to Jennings, Flicked away by Jennings as Hasan misses his line. Gets it in the gap to deep square leg and they come back for the second run. 34/0
9.1 H Ali to Jennings, Starts of with a good one. Good length ball just outside off, Jennings flirts with it but misses. 32/0
First change for Pakistan. Hasan Ali is brought on to bowl.
8.6 M Amir to Cook, The batsman shoulders arms to let that one through. 32/0
8.5 M Amir to Cook, In line of the stumps, Cook gets behind the ball and is solid in defense. 32/0
8.4 M Amir to Cook, Outside off, no need to pay at these. 32/0
8.3 M Amir to Cook, The batsman has punched the ball off the back foot. 32/0
8.2 M Amir to Cook, FOUR! Makes it look so easy. Third one for Cook. Amir drifts this down leg and Cook flicks it away through mid-wicket. A boundary results. 32/0
8.1 M Amir to Cook, Defended off the back foot by the batsman. 28/0
7.6 M Abbas to Jennings, FOUR! SHOT! Beautifully played and does not bother running for it. Overpitched from Abbas and Keaton leans ahead and drives it in the gap through covers. This opening partnership has now equaled their best in Tests for the year. 28/0
7.5 M Abbas to Jennings, Length ball just outside off, the ball comes back in but is well watched and left by Jennings. 24/0
7.4 M Abbas to K Jennings, Around off, Jennings pushes this to the off side. 24/0
7.3 M Abbas to Jennings, Around off, Jennings covers his stumps and blocks it solidly. 24/0
7.2 M Abbas to Jennings, Outside off, left alone. 24/0
7.1 M Abbas to Jennings, No swing for Abbas as Jennings leaves it alone outside his off stump. 24/0
6.6 M Amir to Cook, Alastair shows the full face of the bat and defends the ball off the back foot. 24/0
6.5 M Amir to Cook, Outside off, Cook does not bother playing at it. 24/0
6.4 M Amir to K Jennings, Just short. Shouldn’t have played at that one. Jennings looks to steer this towards the slip cordon. But the ball goes off the edge and falls well short of the third slip fielder. He cannot stop the ball and the batsmen take a run. 24/0
6.3 M Amir to Jennings, Gets forward and drives this towards point. 23/0
6.2 M Amir to Jennings, On that fifth stump channel, Jennings watches the ball as it goes to Sarfraz. 23/0
6.1 M Amir to Jennings, Pitched up ball on off, pushes solidly to covers. 23/0
5.6 M Abbas to Cook, Length ball on off, Cook points his bat skywards to let it through. 23/0
5.5 M Abbas to Cook, Around off, Cook gives it to the man at point. 23/0
5.4 M Abbas to Cook, In line of the stumps, the chef has played that off the front foot and into the ground. 23/0
5.3 M Abbas to Cook, Length ball on middle and leg, Cook plays this to the mid-wicket fielder. 23/0
5.2 M Abbas to Cook, Outside off, Cook covers his stumps and lets the ball go to the keeper. 23/0
5.1 M Abbas to Cook, Played to the point region by the batsman. 23/0
4.6 M Amir to Jennings, Good length ball on off, KJ looks to have a go at it but cannot get any bat to it. 23/0
4.5 M Amir to Cook, Cuts this towards the point region and jogs to complete the run. 23/0
Interesting! Problems of being a bit too tall. Ben Stokes was sitting in the balcony to have a nice view of how his mates are going on with their batting. But his position was just above the sightscreen. As a result, Cook signaled him to bend down in order to not get distracted. He bent down and then peeped to see if the ball had been bowled, to then get up and go inside the dressing room. Tall tales!
4.4 M Amir to Cook, PEACH! On that fourth stump channel, forcing Cook to play who gets his blade out but gets beaten. 22/0
4.3 M Amir to Cook, AC lets this ball go outside his off stump. 22/0
Third man in place as a follow-up to the previous boundary.
4.2 M Amir to Cook, FOUR! Playing with the field is Cook. Amir hurls this on a good length outside off, Cook opens the bat face and guides it past the fourth slip for another boundary. They are really looking good. 22/0
4.1 M Amir to Cook, Full and wide outside off, Cook leaves it alone. 18/0
3.6 M Abbas to Jennings, FOUR! Elegantly done! A tad full from Abbas and Jennings drives it crisply through cover-point to get his first boundary. A steady start so far from the home team. 18/0
3.5 M Abbas to K Jennings, Gives this ball to the gully fielder to collect. 14/0
3.4 M Abbas to Jennings, That ball has taken the inside edge of the batsman and thudded into his pads. 14/0
3.3 M Abbas to Jennings, Around off, Jennings closes the bat face early and gets a soft edge towards the off side. 14/0
3.2 M Abbas to Jennings, Length ball outside off, Jennings does not offer a shot to this. 14/0
3.1 M Abbas to Jennings, Full and outside off, Keaton leaves it alone. 14/0
2.6 M Amir to Jennings, Pushes this to the cover region and gets a single. They are running really well here. 14/0
2.5 M Amir to K Jennings, FOUR! Fuller ball outside off, Jennings guides it wide of gully and the ball has enough legs to get get to the rope. 13/0
2.4 M Amir to Jennings, Too far for Jennings to make any contact. 9/0
Keaton Jennings was had a word with by the square leg umpire in the previous over. The reason was that he was deemed to be getting close to the danger area on the pitch. The opening batter is standing well outside the crease, due to which, his stride forward comes really close to the danger area. There’s more to worry in the game than this for Jennings, says Nasser Hussain on air.
2.3 M Amir to Cook, Frustrating for the bowlers here. Runs from the first three balls already. Cook plays this off this back foot towards point and gets another run. 9/0
2.2 M Amir to Jennings, Jennings is up and running. Length ball wide outside off, Jennings opens the face of the bat and guides it far from the gully fielder. The fielder in the deep cuts it out and the batsmen run three. 8/0
2.1 M Amir to Cook, Length ball on off, Cook taps it to the off side with soft hands and sprints to complete the run. Good running. 5/0
1.6 M Abbas to Jennings, The batsman has played that off the front foot and into the ground. 4/0
1.5 M Abbas to Jennings, Full this time outside off, Jennings lets the ball go to the keeper. 4/0
1.4 M Abbas to Jennings, Length ball outside off, gets it to move away a bit, Jennings is happy to leave it alone. 4/0
1.3 M Abbas to Jennings, Outside off, left alone. 4/0
1.2 M Abbas to Jennings, Jennings shoulders arms to let that one through. 4/0
1.1 M Abbas to Jennings, The batsman chooses to leave the ball outside his off stump. 4/0
0.6 M Amir to A Cook, FOUR! That’s the length and Cook gets an edge through the slip cordon. Full and outside off, Cook looks to defend it but gets an outside edge as the ball flies past third slip. So the former skipper gets going with a streaky boundary. 4/0
0.5 M Amir to Cook, Outside off, hint of away swing and Cook leaves it alone. 0/0
0.4 M Amir to Cook, PEACH! Excellent from Amir! Makes Cook play at it and almost gets his outside edge. Serves it on a good length around off, Cook plays and misses. 0/0
0.3 M Amir to Cook, Angles this down leg, Cook works it to mid-wicket for a dot. 0/0
0.2 M Amir to A Cook, Ohh!!! Edged but falls short of the man at second slip. Serves this fuller on off, Cook pokes at it and gets a soft outside edge that lands just short of second slip. 0/0
0.1 M Amir to Cook, Comes in from over the wicket and bowls it on a good length outside off, Cook shoulders his arms to it. 0/0
First Published: June 1, 2018, 3:09 PM IST