MANCHESTER: Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was at pains on Sunday to dismiss suggestions that Mohammad Amir’s agitated gesticulation after the defeat against India was a result of his frustration at his teammates.
Even if it was, Pakistan’s pace spearhead could hardly be faulted.
The 27-year-old left-arm quick has found himself saddled with the burden of a misfiring bowling unit, which simply refuses to complement his effort.
Pacers hunt in pairs but Amir has been Pakistan’s lone ranger with the ball with no significant assistance from the other end.
Figures from Pakistan’s last two matches, against Australia and India, prove how toothless the attack is without Amir.
In those two defeats, Amir returned a combined figure of 20-3-77-8 while others put together managed an embarrassing 79-0-554-7.
With 13 wickets from four matches, Amir shares the top wicket-taker’s position with Australian Mitchell Starc.
The next Pakistani on the list is Wahab Riaz, way behind with five wickets from four matches.
“He’s got 13 wickets in four games. Other bowlers should also chip in,” spinner Imad Wasim said after the defeat by India.
Riaz, whose hostile spell to Australian Shane Watson in the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup was one of the highlights of the tournament, has struggled for success.
The left-arm quick had vowed to prove coach Mickey Arthur wrong after being left out of the original squad but has done little to justify his late inclusion.
Fellow quick Hasan Ali, who bled 84 runs in his nine overs against India, has not done any better with two wickets from four matches.
Against a bowling attack of such nature, the opposition strategy has been fairly simple — to treat Amir with respect and others with disdain.
KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma did exactly that on Sunday during their 136-run opening stand, even allowing Amir to begin with a maiden over.
As conditions demand, Amir has bowled a fuller length and kept it tight at both ends of the innings but his pace colleagues have bowled noticeably short.
Rohit, whose 140 helped secure India’s comprehensive victory, was asked if he was pleasantly surprised by the short length which allowed him to cut and pull with impunity.
“I really can’t read into what was going in their mind, whether to bowl up or to bowl short,” the right-hander said.
“As a batsman, you’re ready to just pounce on it when given or bowled to your strength. It’s my strength when someone bowls short to me.”