New Zealand v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Auckland January 31, 2016

Amir 'not at his best, but getting there' - Waqar


Mohammad Amir picked up five wickets across his first two ODIs in five years, while conceding only 3.9 runs an over © Getty Images

Mohammad Amir claimed 5 for 67 across his first two ODIs in five years, and was described as the "pick of Pakistan's bowlers" by Martin Guptill, but Waqar Younis believes he is still some distance from his best.

Amir's efforts in the T20 series had been modest. A promising start in Auckland petered out to two wicketless performances in Hamilton and Wellington. But he was arguably the bowler of the brief ODI series, from either team. Trent Boult took one more wicket than Amir, but conceded runs at 5.55 an over to Amir's 3.9.

The ODI at Eden Park saw Amir claim a wicket with his first delivery - his bouncer too quick for Brendon McCullum, who mis-hit the ball to fine leg. Amir has been breaching 140kph throughout the tour, and has also occasionally swung and seamed the ball. Movement in the air was a feature of his first spell on Sunday.

"I still feel Amir's not at his best at the moment," Waqar said. "I always knew that it's going to take some time. But he's getting there. He's started swinging the ball back at right-handers, which I think is key for the left-arm fast bowlers. And he's getting his pace back."

Amir's first spell at Eden Park was particularly impressive, as he claimed figures of 1 for 15 from five Powerplay overs, while the New Zealand batsmen reaped 37 for 0 from the five overs delivered from the other end. He raised two lbw appeals in that time, and also beat the edges of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson. Those two batsmen would go on to score more than 80 apiece, and have also been in excellent form throughout the home season.

"Amir didn't give us too many bad balls," Guptill said of that first spell. "He got the ball swinging, which he hasn't done all series. It was a bit tougher today, and he bowled very well. He was definitely the pick of the Pakistani bowlers. He's proving what a world-class bowler he still is."

Amir's comeback tour has drawn a mixed range of reactions from spectators and fellow players. There was rankling within the Pakistan side before the tour, but after the team arrived in Auckland, Wahab Riaz said he was glad to have Amir in the side. ODI captain Azhar Ali also later said he and Amir had "moved on" and resolved their differences.

Elsewhere, there had been warm applause for Amir in his comeback T20 match at Eden Park, but was also made fun of by some fans, and a ground announcer who played a cash-register sound effect during one of his spells. This was ostensibly a dig at Amir's history with spot-fixing.

"There's still a lot of pressure for Amir, playing international cricket," Waqar said. "We're trying to ease him into it - not expecting blasts from him. As long as he gets to his peak, when the time is right, hopefully he'll deliver the goods for Pakistan."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Rashid Shohab on February 5, 2016, 15:54 GMT

    Awesome spell by aamir. Hat trick in his first ever PSL match was something special for his fans. I m peshawar zalmi fan but utterly luved aamir's bowling today. Last nite it was the new sensation SLA Muhammad Nawaz n tonite it was Aamir.

  • Ahdul on February 2, 2016, 11:32 GMT

    Pakistan cricket is destroyed because of politics and there is no hope of Pakistan doing any thing good in the Asia cup and World cup. Don't believe the selectors continuously selecting Ahmed Shehzad even after so many failures. Pakistani fans are very dejected with the Performance but its seems that players and coaching staff don't care about winning or losing. Very sad

  • parvez on February 2, 2016, 9:20 GMT

    they must drop azher ali from team and appoint sarfaraz as captain and bring back asif and salman in team there were great one player but why pakistan ignoring them some players like sahjad and hafeez selfish must get rid of them babar azam is going good

  • HI on February 2, 2016, 0:53 GMT

    Pakistan XI for T20I : Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Amir

  • HI on February 2, 2016, 0:41 GMT

    Amir performed quite okay while everyone was expecting a miracle. He is on track to make waves in the future. As for Pakistan, poor last ODI: on a 320 pitch only managing 290 is just plain awful. NZ were better and deserved winners. I especially criticise Azhar Ali for being passive and lacklustre in his batting and captaincy. Hafeez should captain or Malik. Sarfraz ought to open and Pakistan neec to bat deeper, playing Rahat backfired. Not playing Shafiq very strange. But let us concentrate on the t20 matches coming up: Asia Cup and World T20 !

  • Shahriar on February 1, 2016, 16:15 GMT

    The main issue is, aamir is the lonely worrior. Wahab is getting out of touch day by day. Irfan has no sense. And the batting of ridiculous AHMED SHAHZAD. Nevertheless, babbar azam seems promising. Just hope that he doesnt get fade away like others.

  • usama on February 1, 2016, 14:58 GMT

    I get what Waqar is saying; that amir could be even better, which is fine. But I definitely think Waqar has to go as head coach. He plays favourites (doesnt let Sarfraz play in the top order, keeps Rahat Ali in the team).

  • Muhammad on February 1, 2016, 14:30 GMT

    Its time to consider other options for head coach. A great bowler like Waqar should have given a couple of good pacers to Pakistan side but he has not been able to nurture a single one. Pacers like Wahab, Irfan, Sohail Khan and Junaid khan could have been much better than this. Waqar is kinda stubborn person who does not have good chemistry with players. Including bowlers like Rahat Ali in Odis does not make any sense. Dropping Sohail Tanvir from T20s is also a strange decision as he will definitely feature in playing eleven in world t20. PCB should consider Waseem Akram as head coach after world t20.

  • Sayak on February 1, 2016, 8:58 GMT

    I wholeheartedly welcomed this young man once he was back after his personal doom and gloom. And it feels my herat with joy to see him succeed. He is not at his peak, but he will be there once he gets through 2-3 more series. Ask me why I love this Pakistani kid so much being an Indian supporter? Answer is to me he belongs to the endangered species of champion fast bowlers with only Dale Steyn and probably Rabada among the current lot. Broad, Anderson, Boult etc. are good , but they are medium fast at best. However, Finn can also belong to that club one day.

  • Muhammad Bilal on February 1, 2016, 7:47 GMT

    though players performance was disappointing, dont understand what roles does waqar, grant and mushtaq are playing... from 99/6 NZ scores 280 whereas PK from 215 (31 overs) just manage to score 290.