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Amir is not Superman

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Mohammad_Amir_Pakistan_cricketPakistan is not Amir, Amir is not Pakistan. Pakistan is Pakistan. All of us together and united is Pakistan.

For Pakistan, this summer brings one of their biggest challenges after a long time. They visit England, and one thing they know is that it is not going to be like their last two meetings with England, both of which were in the UAE. They know it is going to be a lot tougher. That’s probably the reason they have been going through some pretty rigorous training. It's like an army camp this time.

Pakistan’s new selector, Inzamam-ul-Haq, looks keen to make a strong first impression. He had already asked for swinging and seaming pitches to train on before leaving for England. He is aware of what Broad and Anderson are capable of. If Broad and Anderson can dismiss Australia in a matter of hours, then the Pakistani batsmen will find it tougher to stay in front of these two maestros who artfully swing and seam the ball around with great control. It might be too tough for Pakistan to handle, I feel.

Pakistan’s summer again depends on Mohammad Amir. It is all ‘Amir’ again. Pakistan’s hope to win is Amir. Pakistan’s secret weapon is Amir. Pakistan’s way to glory is Amir. Pakistan’s face saver is Amir. Pakistan depends on Amir. Pakistan is Amir. And that is sad.

Pakistan is a team of eleven players that go on the field and play for the country. It is a squad of 15 that goes to England, and Pakistan is made up of 182 million people. Pakistan is much more than Amir.

 

It is true that Pakistan faces one of its sternest tests this year. It’s no joke to play against England in England and come back with a sense of pride and achievement. McCullum did that last year. Before that, only South Africa have been great in England in the recent past. It won’t be a matter of shame if Pakistan comes back defeated, or even defeated badly. Although it will be a shame if Pakistan comes back without giving a fight except for Amir. Because Pakistan is not just Amir.

Many might argue that Sarfaraz and Azhar are the future. But have they ever been tested in English conditions before? Remember we saw a great Australian batting line up cleaned up for only 60 by Stuart Broad single-handedly last year. England has only improved since then. Can Misbah and Younis and Sarfaraz and Azhar face the English seamers in conditions truly favoring swing and seam? No, of course not.

Almost everyone says Pakistan has Amir, one of the best left-arm quick bowlers nowadays. He can swing it both ways and that too pretty sharply. He might be Pakistan’s lethal weapon, but he is not unplayable. We saw how he cleaned up India in the Asia cup but Virat negotiated Amir pretty well and in the end even hit him for some crisp cover drives.

The Asia cup match brings me to a very, very important point. I know that the highlight of that match was Kohli’s brilliant innings and Amir's sensational spell, but we do forget one thing i.e. Pakistan’s batting. Pakistan’s batting faltered on a seaming and swinging pitch against a mediocre “Indian bowling attack.” Let me repeat that, against a mediocre Indian bowling attack. Now just imagine Broad and Anderson on the same sort of pitches against Pakistan. Keep in mind that England has Joe Root, one of the best of this era and a future legend for sure. They have Alastair Cook who already is a Test legend and who can forget the fiery Bairstow and Ben Stokes.

The question here is, would Amir suffice for all of them? Honestly, I don’t think so. England bats very deep. Look at that lineup: Cook, Hales, Root, Vince, Ballance, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen Ali and then even Stuart Broad can bat. Finn and Anderson aren’t bad either in supporting the top order. One Amir and eleven Englishmen. Does it look like Amir would suffice?

 

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