World Cup a dream come true for Pakistan's Mohammad Amir
Nottingham (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir says playing in the World Cup will be a dream come true after he missed the previous two tournaments following a ban for spot-fixing.
The 27-year-old nearly missed out this time as he was left out of the preliminary World Cup squad, having taken just five wickets in the 14 matches before the recent one-day international series against England.
He did not get to bowl in the first match against England at the Oval, which was ruined by the weather, and missed the last four games with a bout of chicken pox. The home side won the series 4-0.
But selectors decided to include him in the final 15 for the World Cup in England and Wales.
"It's a dream come true," Amir told AFP ahead of Pakistan's first match against West Indies at Trent Bridge on Friday. "Every cricketer dreams of representing his country in a World Cup so this is my chance.
"My target is to take wickets and be a third-time lucky in England after winning the World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy," said the paceman, recalling Pakistan's triumphs in England in 2009 and 2017.
Amir said Pakistan had positive memories of playing in England, which they hoped to take into the World Cup.
"Our triumph in the World Twenty20 was excellent and then the Champions Trophy -- the impact of those wins are with us and the amount of support we get in the UK is extraordinary, so naturally we will like to match those.
"People love the Pakistan team and come in large numbers to support us. I can't forget the final of the Champions Trophy at the Oval (2017)."
- Tainted career -
Amir was among three players involved in a spot-fixing scandal during a 2010 Test against England.
The quick bowler, fellow paceman Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, Pakistan's captain in that match, were sentenced to jail terms, and were all given five-year worldwide bans from cricket by the International Cricket Council.
Amir said he had moved on from the "sordid chapter" in his career.
"It was unfortunate to miss so much cricket, including two World Cups, but my belief is that you can't avoid your destiny. Those World Cups were not in my destiny but there is sadness on missing them.
"But once you think that this is your chance, you try to make full use of it by forgetting everything, so I will do that and everything is behind me."
Amir believes talk of flat tracks and big scores at the World Cup are exaggerated.
"People have made a mountain out of a molehill that flat tracks will do this and that. I agree that it's a challenge for bowlers but you need to swing the ball and if it's not happening then you have to rely on your variations.
"I don't get bogged down by the hype on flat tracks."
Amir hopes to overturn a poor run of personal form.
"I am sure things will get better," he said. "I know I have not taken wickets but I have not bowled badly, so I am thankful to the team, selectors and others who have backed me and I will do my best to fulfil their confidence."
? 2019 AFP