Mohammad Aamer is today one of Pakistan’s best pace bowlers, despite having played only 8 Tests and 13 ODIS over the last one year. If there is any one bowler who can restore Pakistan’s status as a top cricket nation, it has to be Aamer.
His bowling consists of raw pace, something which bowlers these days lack perhaps due to wickets being more batting-friendly. His skills were very much present in pace greats such as Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar. Bowling at 150 kmph regularly is no mean task for a 17-year old.
He is a left-arm bowler whose action is reminiscent to that of his idol and one of the highest wicket-takers in ODI cricket, Wasim Akram. Akram has been accountable for Aamer’s success at the international level so far.
He spotted him at a fast bowlers camp in Lahore in 2007, and considered him as a huge bowling prospect who could play for the country soon. Aamer had done reasonably well in England in the same year and in 2008, he helped Pakistan win a U-19 triseries in Sri Lanka.
He could have played the U-19 World Cup in 2008, but had a dengue virus. However, as Aamer grew stronger and older, his health and bowling too improved.
In 2009, in his debut season for the National Bank of Pakistan, he was one of the top wicket-takers with 55 wickets to his name. This wonderful performance at the domestic circuit earned him a place in the final squad of the World Twenty20 team.
He grabbed this opportunity to cement his place in the playing XI of Pakistan in all three formats of the game. He took over an out-of-form but experienced Sohail Tanvir as Pakistan’s spearhead.
In the World T-20, he bowled the final overs like an expert which eventually aided Pakistan to win the title. And his opening over in the final against Sri Lanka will be remembered by ardent Pakistani fans. Sri Lanka’s Tillakratne Dilshan was the man in form and was the highest run-getter of the tournament.
His new invention, the scoop shot was considered to be crucial in Sri Lanka getting a big total. However, Aamer got the better of Dilshan by getting him out for a five-ball duck with quick, dangerous short-pitched bowling which made him look like an amateur, nobody kind of a batsman.
He did well in Sri Lanka soon after in August 2009 when he picked 4 wickets in the final match of the ODI series to help Pakistan win 2 games out of 5. However, perhaps the best moment of his cricketing career came during the Champions Trophy in South Africa.
It was a first-round match between Pakistan and India. Pakistan had scored 300 in 50 overs, thanks to hundreds from Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik. The pitch was still good for batting when India came out to bat, requiring 6 runs per over minimum if they had to win. India’s openers were Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar.
However Aamer was undeterred very much like the World T-20 final. He struck with a magical outswinging ball which got the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar for just 8 runs. From there on, India were never in the game and laboured to a defeat by 56 runs.
It was a dream tournament for Aamer as his career seemed to finally take off, as Pakistan finished 4th in the tournament, out of the top 8 teams of ODI cricket.
Aamer had a decent tour of New Zealand, despite going wicketless in the drawn Napier Test. However, it was in Australia when Aamer faced ups and downs.
Aamer had picked 5 wickets in the second innings of the Melbourne Test, which only showed his increasing maturity and his flexibility to play at the international level at such a young age.
However, in the 3rd Test at Hobart, Aamer dropped a simple, regulation catch at deep fine leg when an out-of-form Australian captain Ricky Ponting was batting on 0. He went on to make a double-hundred on his home ground, which prevented Pakistan from winning another Test match after the Sydney debacle.
In the ODIS, Aamer bowled modestly as Pakistan were whitewashed in the best of 5 series, therefore ending an ill-fated and winless tour. Despite all the controversy regarding IPL and the public fighting of the Pakistani team members, Aamer has been amazingly able to maintain his focus on his game and the result was another good World T-20 campaign for Pakistan.
Although the team couldn’t defend the title, yet they did make it to the semifinals. With a new captain in Shahid Afridi and a new coach in none other than Waqar Younis, Aamer’s best days are definitely ahead of him as he could be Afridi’s trump card for the World Cup 2011 in the Indian subcontinent which is just a few months away.
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