Pakistan ODI skipper Azhar Ali sorts out differences with Mohammad Amir
Pakistan ODI skipper Azhar Ali revealed that he had made peace with controversial pacer Mohammad Amir and said that he is solely focussed on leading his side against New Zealand in the three-match ODI series which begins tomorrow, ESPNCricinfo reports.
Pakistan’s preparations for the tour to New Zealand was thrown into turmoil four weeks back when Azhar, along with all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, had refused to take part in a pre-tour conditioning camp after Amir, who had served out his five-year ban from cricket for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal, was picked in the squad. Ali had even threatened to step down as ODI skipper only for his request to be turned down by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
However, with all eyes on the pair ahead of the series commencing on Monday, Azhar said that he has sorted out all differences with the 23-year-old.
"Whatever my stance was, my job is to lead this side and keep harmony in the dressing room," he said. "We are all united and keen for this challenge.”
When pressed on as to what had led to his change in stance on the matter, Azhar refused to divulge any details and instead praised Amir for the way he bowled in the three-match T20 series and is hopeful that the speedster can improve his wickets tally in the 50-overs series having picked up only one wicket in the three T20 matches.
"We should not discuss more about it. We've moved on," he said. “He bowled well in the T20s I think," Azhar said. "As the captain, my job is to take the best out of him. Hopefully, we will all be united and with Mohammad Amir, and we will allow him to bowl really well and get wickets for Pakistan."
Azhar wary about strong winds at the Basin Reserve
With the ODI series kicking off at the Basin Reserve in Wellington which is characterised by strong winds, Azhar said that his side packed with left-arm pacers like Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan and Rahat Ali, along with Amir, have been practising with the climatic conditions at the venue in mind.
"We already discussed it and we're practising in this wind," Azhar said. "So everyone is prepared for that. A lot of the good bowlers that are coming in - most of them are left-armers, in Pakistan," Azhar said. "Sometimes it's an advantage because not every team has left-armers. They bowl at a good pace as well, so we're lucky to have them."
Grant Elliot describes the prospect of facing Mohammad Irfan as an “exciting” one
Black Caps all-rounder Grant Elliot is looking forward to the challenge of facing left-arm pacer Mohammad Irfan who is likely to play a key role for Pakistan in the ODI leg of the tour.
“I think I made the comment that playing Irfan was like batting on a trampoline," Elliott said. "The height that he comes from is very different. It takes a little bit of getting used to - the first couple of balls. He's another great player for the crowd to see bowl. He's seven foot and bowls at 140 clicks."