TAUNTON: Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir marked his return to first-class cricket in England with three wickets as Somerset collapsed at Taunton on Monday.
Former spot-fixer Amir took three for 36 in 11 overs, including the wicket of former England opener Marcus Trescothick, as he served notice he could be a threat in the upcoming Test series against England.
Amir’s exciting career came to a shuddering halt during a Lord’s Test in 2010 when he and new-ball partner Mohammad Asif were caught bowling no-balls to order on the instructions of captain Salman Butt as part of a tabloid newspaper sting operation.
All three received five-year bans from cricket and together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms.
Amir, who served three months in an English young offenders institute, has only featured in the game’s shorter formats since his return to Pakistan duty in January.
But the 24-year-old is now back in England and could make his Test return in the first of a four-match series at Lord’s on July 14.
After Pakistan had declared on Monday morning, Amir took the new ball.
Despite suggestions from England captain Alastair Cook that spectators might jeer Amir, there was nothing but polite applause as he came on to bowl.
Trescothick blocked his first ball and took two fours off Amir’s opening over.
– Swing king –
But Amir struck with his 14th ball back in first-class cricket on English soil.
Left-hander Trescothick, on eight, could only edge a superb outswinger that moved late and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed held an excellent diving catch.
Amir had another wicket when a full-length inswinger bowled first-class debutant Adam Hose (10).
Somerset were now 23 for two, with Amir having taken two wickets for six runs in 11 balls.
And eight minutes after lunch, Amir bowled Peter Trego (23) with another fine inswinger that knocked over the batsman’s middle stump and left the other two standing.
Fellow quicks Sohail Khan (three for 26) and Rahat Ali (two for 38) also bowled well.
Somerset slumped to 128 all out in reply to Pakistan’s first innings 359 for eight declared — a deficit of 231 runs.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq opted against enforcing the follow-on and at stumps, on the second day of three, the tourists were 140 for four for in their second innings — a huge lead of 371 runs.
Azhar Ali was 50 not out and Asad Shafiq 26 not out.
Only James Hildreth (47 not out), long overlooked by England, offered much resistance with the bat for Somerset.
Not a single no-ball was bowled in Somerset’s innings.
Pakistan resumed on their overnight score of 324 for five, with Younis Khan 99 not out.
It took the 38-year-old Younis 12 balls Monday to complete his 53rd first-class hundred but he got there with a two to fine leg off Dutch paceman Paul van Meekeren.
Younis’s century came off 173 balls, including 14 fours.
There was an ironic moment when the first delivery Amir faced was a Josh Davey no-ball.
Next ball, Amir was caught behind off Davey for a duck.
– Hafeez dissent –
Mohammad Hafeez struck a six off the first ball of Pakistan’s second innings when his legside flick off Davey sailed over fine leg.
But the Scotland seamer had his revenge when Hafeez was given out caught behind on 10.
Hafeez shrugged his shoulders in disbelief at umpire Tom Lungley’s decision, with square leg official Billy Taylor encouraging the opener to depart.
Misbah fell for 19 when he reverse-swept left-arm spinner Jack Leach and Trescothick held a fine slip catch.
But Ali pressed on and completed a 113-ball fifty when he launched off-spinner Dom Bess over mid-off for his seventh four. -AFP