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Amir aims for win of a lifetime against England


London – Mohammad Amir has had some of the greatest and
undoubtedly the worst days of his career in England – sometimes during the very
same match. 

But fresh from helping bowl Pakistan to a crushing
nine-wicket win over England in the first Test at Lord’s, the left-arm paceman
hopes he can enjoy the “best memory” with a series win in the second
and final Test at Headingley, starting on Friday. 

Amir, who burst on the world scene as a teenager, got his
name on the Lord’s honours board with a six-wicket haul against England in
2010. 

But in the same game at the ‘home of cricket’, Amir was
caught up in a spot-fixing scandal which led to a jail sentence and a five-year
ban. 

That same season, Amir took three wickets for 20 runs in 11
overs at Headingley during a sensational bowling display as an Australia side
featuring Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Steven Smith were
dismissed for just 88 in the first innings of the second ‘neutral’ Test. 

The match, which Pakistan eventually won by three wickets,
saw Amir stake a claim to ‘The Ball of the 21st Century’ when an
all-but-unplayable delivery that pitched on the middle-and-leg stump of
Mitchell Johnson seamed away late to clip the top of the left-hander’s
off-stump. 

Amir, who helped Essex win the English County Championship
last season when he also starred in Pakistan’s outstanding one-day Champions
Trophy final victory over arch-rivals India at The Oval, has rarely hit those
Headingley heights in Test cricket since his return to the international stage
two years ago. 

Amir, however, took five wickets – including four for 36 in
the second innings – as Pakistan outclassed England in all areas to win inside
four days at Lord’s on Sunday. 

“It’s a big achievement winning in Test cricket in
England against England at home,” Amir said on Wednesday. 

“If we win the series I think it will be the best
memory of my life,” the swing bowler added. 

Pakistan will be forced into a change, with Fakhar Zaman set
to replace Babar Azam after his fellow batsman suffered a broken arm facing
all-rounder Ben Stokes at Lord’s. 

England have recalled opener Keaton Jennings in place of the
dropped Mark Stoneman, who managed just 13 runs in total at Lord’s. 

“You will only get judged on the amount of runs you
score,” said Jennings, one of Alastair Cook’s 12 opening partners in the
six years since Andrew Strauss’s retirement. 

England made a late addition to their squad, with uncapped
left-arm seamer Sam Curran called up on Wednesday after Stokes suffered a
hamstring strain. 

Regardless of Stokes’s fitness, England may recall
all-rounder Chris Woakes, if only to bolster their fallible batting, in place
of fast bowler Mark Wood. 

Despite their lamentable Lord’s showing, James Anderson
insisted England could bounce back by squaring the series at the Yorkshire home
ground of captain Joe Root. 

The team received a barrage of criticism after Lord’s but
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, said: “The outside
noise is always there, and it’s a bit louder when you perform badly. 

“We’ll try to block out the noise – from whoever is
shouting out,” he added, suggesting a “bit of a luck” may be all
England need to improve on a run of six defeats in their last eight Tests. 

If England are seeking inspiration, they could look to the
Headingley example of the West Indies. 

Last year, the tourists suffered a humiliating innings and
209-run defeat by England in the first Test at Edgbaston, only to enjoy a
five-wicket victory in the second Test as Shai Hope became the first batsman to
score hundreds in both innings of a first-class match at Headingley. 

England, though, might settle for one century by any member
of their faltering top order, let alone two, right now.

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