Pakistan's Amir bowls again as Ireland Test resumes

Dublin (AFP) –


Pakistan's Mohammad Amir returned for the start of Monday's fourth day of Ireland's inaugural Test despite a troublesome knee injury.

The Pakistan spearhead went off just 3.2 overs into his spell during Ireland's second innings on Sunday with a recurrence of a "chronic" left knee problem.

It was a worrying sign for Pakistan, who next play a warm-up match against Leicestershire (May 19-20) before facing England in a two-Test series, with back-to-back fixtures at Lord's (May 24-28) and Headingley (June 1-5) leaving little time for rest and recovery.

With Ireland, following-on, resuming on their overnight 64 without loss, Amir did not come into the attack until Monday's ninth over, with the hosts then 81 for two after Ed Joyce had been run out by Faheem Ashraf and Andrew Balbirnie lbw for his second nought of the match to Mohammad Abbas.

Amir, who had both Joyce and Ireland captain William Porterfield dropped during his brief spell on Sunday, was not operating at top speed to begin with on Monday, but that is often the case with many fully-fit pacemen when they bowl their first over of the day.

He did, however, flex his knee and walk gingerly between overs.

It was at Lord's where the now 26-year-old Amir's cricket career almost came to an end following his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal during a 2010 Test against England.

Amir was given a jail sentence by an English court and a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council, but made his return to the world stage two years ago.

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested after stumps on Sunday that Amir's lengthy time away from the game allied to the fact he had been involved in all three international formats -- Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20s -- since coming back had taken a toll on the swing bowler.

"Unfortunately, he came back after five years (out) and since he came back he has played every format for us," said Mahmood.

"We have to manage his workload as well so maybe that's a sign for us in the future to see where he stands," the former Pakistan all-rounder added. "We are working on that, and hopefully we can come up with something."

Before this match, Amir had taken 95 wickets in 30 Tests and last season he helped Essex win English cricket's first-class County Championship.

"We want him to play Test cricket because he's our number one bowler," said Mahmood.

"But for him, it's a concern for us and hopefully we will manage his workload in the future."

Mahmood, reflecting on Amir's injury in Dublin, added on Sunday: "He has got a chronic knee problem which has slightly flared up. Hopefully, he will be ok tomorrow (Monday) to bowl for us."

Amir burst onto the world scene as a teenager in 2009, and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets.

His first 14 Tests saw Amir take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 runs apiece, but his 16 completed Tests since his comeback yielded 44 wickets at a more expensive average of 37.25.