A blossoming career was nipped in the bud when Mohammad Amir was found guilty of spot-fixing during a 2010 Test at Lord’s. His career nearly ended by a ban and jail sentence that followed in London. But Amir was lucky enough to get a second chance and luckier that he hadn’t lost his skill. The skill that makes left-arm seamers priceless gems in a game that is tilted so heavily in the favour of batsmen.
The third delivery was bowled back of a length, moving away and suddenly the ghosts of Kohli’s weakness outside the off stump in England came back to haunt him. The edge was induced, the ball flew to Azhar Ali at first slip and he dropped perhaps the simplest of catches. Had Pakistan dropped the Champions Trophy? No. Not when Amir had found his deadly rhythm.
The next delivery was again back of a length, but instead of going away, it was brought in. Kohli, learning from his last ball mistake, moved slightly across to whip it through midwicket – a shot that has given him great success. But Kohli was flummoxed by the angle, the angle of a left-arm seamer who made him play a fraction a second early due to which the ball flew to Shadab Khan at backward point off the leading edge.
India shocked. Pakistan delirious. Kohli back in the hut. Amir mobbed by his team-mates. The outnumbered green shirt fans had silenced the stunned sea of blue. Pakistan had one arm around the Champions Trophy already.