Amir aims for another Taunton triumph as Australia await

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir during a warm up match against Afghanistan before ICC Cricket World Cup at County Ground, Bristol, Britain on May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 June 2019

Amir aims for another Taunton triumph as Australia await

  • Pakistan to face Australia in a World Cup match on Wednesday
  • Pakistan have won just one of their last 14 matches against champions Australia

TAUNTON, United Kingdom: Mohammad Amir will hope to enjoy another landmark occasion at Taunton when Pakistan face Australia there in a World Cup match on Wednesday.
The group fixture at southwest county Somerset’s headquarters sees Amir back at the ground where he made his return to first-class cricket in England three years ago.
Amir was the rising star of world cricket when his career came to a stunning halt during a Lord’s Test in 2010 after both he and new-ball partner Mohamed Asif were caught bowling no-balls on the orders of then Pakistan captain Salman Butt as part of a newspaper sting operation.
The trio all received five-year bans from cricket and jail terms.
That same 2010 season had seen Amir produce a superb display of swing bowling in taking three for 20 as Pakistan dismissed Australia for just 88 on the first day of a ‘neutral’ Test at Headingley.
Those skills remained intact as Amir marked his 2016 return to the first-class game in England in 2016 with a haul of three for 36 against Somerset at Taunton.
All three wickets — including that of former England opener Marcus Trescothick — owed much to late swing.
The intervening years have not been easy for Amir, however, and he almost missed what is his first World Cup after taking just five wickets in 14 matches before a recent one-day international series in England.
Amir did not bowl in the washed-out first match against England and missed the last four games with chicken pox. England won the series 4-0.
But having been left out of Pakistan’s preliminary squad for the World Cup, the 27-year-old made it into the final 15.
His World Cup debut was a rare Pakistan highlight after they slumped to 105 all out against the West Indies, with Amir taking three for 26 in a seven-wicket loss at Trent Bridge.
He was in the wickets again at the Nottingham ground, but this time in a winning cause, with two for 67 as Pakistan surprisingly beat tournament favorites England by 14 runs last week.
But Pakistan’s progress was checked by a total washout against Sri Lanka at Bristol.
Pakistan have won just one of their last 14 matches against champions Australia, the five-times World Cup winners.
That victory was inspired by Mohammad Hafeez’s 72 at Melbourne in January 2017.
And it was Hafeez’s 84 that laid the foundations for an impressive total of 348 for eight against England.
“We have not won many matches against Australia but we had not won too many against England either,” said Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
“But we have finally beaten England and that has given us a lot of positives.
“We will go with the aggressive approach we showed against England.”
The wicket-keeper expects to face an Australia side stung by a 36-run loss to India last weekend — their first defeat of this World Cup following wins over Afghanistan and the West Indies.
“We know Australia will try to come back and with (Steve) Smith and (David) Warner back they are at their best again,” said Sarfaraz.
“We respect all our opponents and are ready for them.”
Australia will hope opener Warner, for all he has already scored two fifties this World Cup, is back to his destructive best at Taunton.
Warner’s 56 off 84 balls against India — of which 48 were dots — helped contribute to a slow run-rate that left Australia with too much to do at the end of their innings.
The left-hander was also involved in the run-out of Australia captain and opening partner Aaron Finch.
But Finch backed Warner, who along with Smith is playing in his first major tournament for Australia since serving a year-long ban for ball-tampering.
“They (India) bowled very well to Warner and he needs some more time. He’s a world-class player and will get us off to a flyer,” said Finch.


Pakistan arrests 'most wanted' militant linked to Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade

Updated 28 January 2021

Pakistan arrests 'most wanted' militant linked to Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade

  • Counterterrorism police chief says Abbas Jafri received military training in neighboring Iran
  • Last December, police arrested two members of the same militant outfit from Karachi’s Korangi area

KARACHI: Pakistan has arrested a ‘most wanted’ militant it says is linked to the Zainabiyoun Brigade, with investigators saying on Thursday he had received military training in neighboring Iran.
The Zainabiyoun Brigade was placed on the US Treasury’s financial blacklist in January 2019 and is believed to have sent young members of the Pakistani Shiite community to fight in Syria. 
“The arrested terrorist, Abbas Jafri, is a close aide of another most-wanted terrorist, Yawar Abbas, and, much like other members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade, got his military training in neighboring Iran,” Omar Shahid, deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), said.
According to an official handout, Jafri, who was arrested in Karachi, was trained in 2014 and, among other skills, taught to perform intelligence operations and provide medical services.
“The arrested terrorist specialized in automatic weapons and received training from a neighboring country,” the handout added.
Jafri, from whom weapons were confiscated, was also described as the right-hand man of Yawar Abbas and named in the “Red Book”, an official document on that lists  names and profiles of hardened militants.
According to the police, Jafri was involved in carrying out reconnaissance activities for militants.
The arrested man has been shifted to an undisclosed location for further investigation, police said.
Earlier in December, CTD said it had arrested two members of the Zainabiyoun Brigade from the Korangi area of Karachi in connection with a string of killings over the last six years. 
Tehran has not responded to the CTD’s claims.
On November 27, an AP report said that a group of Pakistanis was among 19 pro-Iran militia fighters killed in eastern Syria.
In March, a senior official told Arab News that up to 50 Pakistani fighters were killed by the Turkish army and Syrian forces in a major rebel stronghold in the northwest of the country.