Mohammad Amir Accepts His Admiration For Virat Kohli And Team India
By CricShots - Nov 21, 2017 9:38 am
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Mohammad Amir after dismissing Virat Kohli in CT 2017 final

Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir played a crucial role in derailing the Indian top-order in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy in England but he has revealed that he had almost lost hope of Pakistan winning the game after India skipper Virat Kohli was dropped.

Azhar Ali had dropped Virat off the third ball of the third over when the India skipper slashed at one outside the off-stump, only for Azhar to drop a sitter. But Amir kept his calm and dismissed Kohli off the very next ball, this time caught by Shadab Khan at point of a leading edge. And the Amir revealed that his heart was in his mouth when Azhar dropped Kohli.

During a chat with ESPNCricinfo, Amir said, “When Kohli was dropped, I thought half the game was gone, to be honest. Because he is the kind of batsman if you give him a chance, he won’t score less than hundred. Ninety-percent of the time, you give him a chance, he gets a hundred. Recently against New Zealand, they dropped him on 15 or 20 and he scored a hundred. He doesn’t give you a second chance.” 

He further added, “I remembered Fakhar [Zaman] and how he had been out on a no-ball and had then scored a hundred. That kind of thing happens when you are walking back, it came to me immediately and I thought I hope this doesn’t happen to us now.”

Speaking about the dismissal delivery, the pacer said: “In my mind, I thought he’ll be ready for my inswinger because the previous ball had been an outswinger. So I thought, 80-90% he would be ready for an inswinger. But I wanted to bowl at him in the same area, and move it away again. If you look at the clips of it, you can see he shaped to play it to leg, he moved to play it to on [side], thinking I was going to bring it in. My thinking was that if I bowl again in the same area, the same ball going away, he might go to play it thinking it is coming in, and edge it to slip again, but it went with the angle to point.”

The mutual respect between Kohli and Amir is immense and the pacer didn’t shy away in accepting the fact that Virat is one of the best chasers in world cricket, if not the best. He said, “Everybody knows if you get Kohli, India is 50% out of the game. Till he is at the crease, India’s chances of winning are 70-80%. If you look at his chasing ratio, he is at the top of the world. He chases well, he performs well under pressure. So our plan was to get their top order – [Shikhar] Dhawan, [Rohit] Sharma, Kohli, the guys who were scoring the runs in the tournament. My plan was that I didn’t want to save runs, I wanted to take wickets. If we could get one or two from the top, we could win the match.”

Despite the fact that some bowlers look to restrict the flow of runs, Amir believed that picking wickets was the only option in the CT 2017 final as the track wasn’t meant to stop the scoring rate. He said. “The pitch was the kind where you couldn’t stop the runs. Even after they were six down, [Hardik] Pandya was hitting so big – the wicket was that flat. You couldn’t stop the runs flowing, you could only take wickets to win the game. My plan in the first spell was that even if I gave away 35-40 runs in the first five but took two wickets, then we were in the game. So the target was to get these two or three guys out.”

Talking about his intensity while playing against India, the southpaw acknowledged, “There are two teams against whom my energy is always very high: India and Australia. It is natural because they are two tough teams, very tough teams. You know Australia is a very tough side and India, as a Pakistani, you know everyone is thinking that if you can perform against India, your star value, your cricketing value, image, and reputation goes up big time, from nowhere to very high. Even if you haven’t done anything in five games against other teams but manage to do something against India in one match, then it evens up all your performances in a year.”

He further elaborated, “Against India, sure, there is that edge. You perform against them, it is something that stays with you an entire career like ‘Amir did this against India or that’. If you look at Saeed [Anwar] bhai’s 194, everyone remembers it till today [because] it came against India. In India-Pakistan games, your star value increases, on both sides, and cricket benefits, cricket boards benefit. And your [ability to handle] pressure levels become very strong.”

Amir concluded by talking about the pressure of big games, he said, “These are pressure games, not about skills, I’ve always believed that. If you play against each other regularly, under all that pressure, you become so good at handling it that in other games, with lesser pressure, it doesn’t bother you, because you’ve gone through such big pressure. So you should have these games.”