Mohammad Amir has had awful luck since he returned from suspension, having at least 11 catches go down off his bowling in Tests; but he had a sense of humour about his misfortune, and suggested the team suffers more from dropped catches than he does.
Amir had four chances missed off his bowling in the ongoing Hamilton Test: two in the slips, one at midwicket, plus a difficult low catch that he himself dropped in his follow through. Catches off his bowling had also gone down through the mid-year Tests in England, and more recently against West Indies as well.
“Yes, it affects the bowler when you run from 22 yards and your catch is dropped – you’re disappointed and frustrated,” Amir said. “But it affects the team more than the individual. I’ve been very unlucky, but I try to be a team man.
“It’s difficult to keep count, but I think at least 12-13 catches have gone down off my bowling in Tests and about six-seven catches have been dropped in the shorter formats as well.”
Chances were also missed off the bowling of Wahab Riaz on Monday, and the reprieves allowed New Zealand to shore up their dominant position in the match, hitting 313 for 5 declared in the second innings to set Pakistan 369 for victory. If Pakistan fail to win this Test, they will lose their No. 2 ranking – a fact Amir said will motivate them to attempt the target on day five.
“The ranking is very important and we’ve achieved it after a lot of hard work,” he said. “In the last seven series, we’ve won about five. It’s very important for us. We like to be among the top teams in the world. Tomorrow there will be 98 overs to bowl, and the first session will be very important. If we can lay a platform, we’ll try to achieve the target. We’ll try to break the target up into smaller scores, and go about it that way.”
New Zealand had taken a 55-run lead into the second innings, but Pakistan may still have put pressure on the hosts if they had taken quick wickets on day four. Many of Monday’s overs might have been bowled by legspinner Yasir Shah, had he been in the XI, but despite New Zealand’s eventual scoreline, Amir was confident the best side had been selected.
“The decision to play four seamers was the correct one,” he said. “So far there’s been a very limited role for the spinners, so the decision to play four quicks was right. The track has improved for batting. The ball is coming onto the bat and it’s become easier to play shots. There’s a good possibility that we will bat well.”
Having won the toss on a green-top, however, Amir said Pakistan should have been more clinical on the first and second days.
“The score of 271 in the first innings when we bowled was on the higher side. We should have got them out for a lower score. Catches also went down – but that’s part of the game.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando