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Pakistan's Azhar backs Amir in England return

Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Amir takes part in a practice session at a cricket ground in Rawalpindi March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files
Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Amir takes part in a practice session at a cricket ground in Rawalpindi March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files

REUTERS - Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir, who spent time in jail and served a five-year ban for spot-fixing, will be able to handle the pressure of returning to England if he is granted a visa for their upcoming tour, said team mate Azhar Ali.

Amir was considered one of the most exciting fast bowlers in the world before a 2010 spot-fixing scandal that resulted in bans and jail sentences for him, former test captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.

The trio were cleared to return to the sport by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last September after serving suspensions.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has requested a visa for Amir, who has already toured New Zealand for a limited over series, played in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and featured in the World Twenty20 in India since serving his ban.

Azhar had offered his resignation as one-day captain when Amir was brought back into the Pakistan fold but is now keen to move on and says the team will support the 24-year-old quick if he needs it in England.

"(What happened in) 2010 is in the past and now we need to look forward," Azhar told reporters on Tuesday.

"It has been a while now since he has been with us. It could have been tough, had he come in straight on such a tour, but now, after playing with us for a long time, things have settled.

"Even he isn't under pressure because he has already made his comeback a few months ago and the toughest phase is over for him," Azhar said.

"I know England was the place where the incident happened but hopefully he can handle the pressure like he did on his comeback. But still if anything happens, we, as a team, will handle it."

Pakistan will play four tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 International in England between July 14 and Sept. 7.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford)

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