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Late mother’s memory inspires Amir to target India

Updated June 16, 2019

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Pakistan pace spearhead Moham­mad Amir says the memory of his late mother will spur him on in the high-voltage World Cup clash against arch-rivals India here on Sunday. — AFP/File
Pakistan pace spearhead Moham­mad Amir says the memory of his late mother will spur him on in the high-voltage World Cup clash against arch-rivals India here on Sunday. — AFP/File

MANCHESTER: Pakistan pace spearhead Moham­mad Amir says the memory of his late mother will spur him on in the high-voltage World Cup clash against arch-rivals India here on Sunday.

The 27-year-old is back in form after taking a career best 5-30 against Australia in a losing cause on Wednesday following a wretched run that saw him take just five wickets in 14 ODIs prior to the World Cup.

Amir said his mother, Naseem Akhtar, who died in March this year, always prayed for his success, wanting him to take five wickets in every match he played.

“My mother will definitely be praying for me from the heavens,” Amir told AFP. “She would always be found before the television and all the time praying for my success and her biggest wish was that I get five wickets, so when I got five I cried and remembered her words.”

Pakistan are in a precarious position, with just three points from their opening four games after losing to the West Indies and Australia, surprisingly beating hosts England and seeing their match with Sri Lanka washed out by rain.

Amir admits there is even more pressure on Pakistan, given loss to India could signal an early end to their chances of reaching the semi-finals.

“The kind of rivalry between Pakistan and India was evident at my home and she always wanted me to come strong against India,” recalled Amir of his mother. “As a cricketer when you hold a bat or a ball and are at a ground then every match is the same. But fans, channels of both the sides, media and now social media create a hype.

“For us cricketers all matches are the same but, yes, our current situation on the points table is putting pressure on us to win this match and progress forward.”

Amir took 3-16 in Pakistan’s resounding 180-run triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy final against India.

“That was a high-pressure game so I learnt from that final. As a strike bowler everyone wanted me to take wic­k­ets and on that day I learned how to handle that pressure,” said Amir. “I am pumped up after getting wickets against Aus­tr­alia,” he said. “I am happy that wickets have come at the right time. When I was bowling well, even when I was not taking wickets, from captain to coach to bowling coach and my team-mates, everyone supported me.”

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2019