Mohammad Amir places high value on Pakistan cap

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Ready to roll: Amir is likely to be back in the Pakistan team soon.

Paceman Mohammad Amir promised to respect Pakistan’s green cap and shirt after being named for a national camp yesterday, the first step toward regaining his place in country’s team following a spot-fixing ban.

The 23-year-old has shown impressive form in domestic matches as well as in the Bangladesh Premier League since his five-year ban was relaxed in April this year then completey lifted three months ago.

Cricket selectors on Friday cleared him for fitness training camp, which could pave the way for his inclusion in the national team.

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Amir was tipped as one of the most talented young fast bowlers when he was jailed in 2011 after admitting bowling no balls the previous summer against England at Lord’s in exchange for cash.

His captain Salman Butt and fellow bowler Mohammad Asif were jailed for similar offences.

Amir said he will do his best to prove he is a changed man. 

“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt,” he said.

At the time of his ban, which derailed his career, Amir was only 18. Legendary Pakistan fast bowler Imran Khan had described him as “the hottest property in international cricket”.

Since his return, Amir has taken 22 wickets in four non first-class games, while his tally of wickets in the qualifying rounds of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy stood at 34.

He then took nine wickets in two first class matches of Quaid-E-Azam trophy while scoring two half centuries.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan and head coach Waqar Younis earlier this month hinted Amir could return to the national team after completing a rehabilitation programme following the lifting of his ban.

The 26 players included for the fitness camp will be eligible for team’s limited over series in New Zealand starting from January 15.

Pakistan will play three one-day and as many Twenty20 internationals on their tour of New Zealand. They then feature in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh followed by the World T20 in India in March-April.

Amir’s return was opposed by some current players, including former Twenty20 skipper Moh-ammad Hafeez, who vowed not to share a dressing room with the tainted player.

But Amir said he hoped he could win them over “with my performances and with my overall behaviour”.

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Sri Lankan authorities investigating claims of match fixing approach

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Officials have reported the incident.

Sri Lankan authorities are investigating a bid to persuade members of the national cricket team to under-perform in a recent Test to ensure a surprise victory for the West Indies, the government said Friday.

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said a man linked to a bookmaker had approached wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and star bowler Rangana Herath to engineer a Sri Lankan batting collapse at a Test in Galle in October, which the hosts went on to win emphatically.

“After Kusal turned down the offer, the man approached Herath who also rejected the offer and alerted the authorities,” Jayasekera told AFP.

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“We have started a police inquiry in addition to an anti-corruption probe by Sri Lanka Cricket,” he added in reference to the national cricket board.

Sri Lanka beat the tourists by an innings and six runs after left-arm spinner Herath took 10 wickets in the match on the country’s south coast.

Jayasekera also suggested that Perera’s recent failure in a doping test may have been because he raised the alarm over the match-fixing attempt.

“It is possible that something was slipped into his food or his urine sample was tampered with to get this result,” Jayasekera said. “We are doing our best to defend him.”

Ashley de Silva, the chief executive of Sri Lanka Cricket, said the board could not discuss the case in line with International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-corruption regulations.

“Because of the anti-corruption regulations, we cannot say anything,” de Silva told AFP.

However a source in the board confirmed that the organisation was conducting its own investigation into the claims.

“The two players brought this to our notice,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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New Zealand strike late to even up day one of second Test

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New Zealand players celebrate.

New Zealand swiped three Sri Lankan wickets shortly before rain arrived to peg back the tourists on a curtailed first day of the second Test in Hamilton.

At 259 for four in the 65th over, Sri Lanka were on top, but they added just five more runs for the loss of Milinda Siriwardana, Kithuruwan Vithanage and Rangana Herath to close on 264 for seven.

Seeking to clinch the two-match series after a convincing victory in Dunedin earned them a 1-0 lead, New Zealand found Sri Lanka more effective combatants this time, batting positively and aggressively and almost eking out a position of control on a pitch that was expected to favour the seamers.

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A fifth-wicket partnership worth 138 between Siriwardana and captain Angelo Mathews, who remained undefeated on 63 at stumps, sustained the innings.

Two wickets in the same over from Trent Boult saw Siriwardana and Vithanage on their way late in the afternoon, however, with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum taking assured catches.

Siriwardana had made a rapid 62, featuring five fours and three sixes.

Herath perished to a run out two balls into the 67th over, with gully fielder Kane Williamson throwing down the stumps. Rain soon followed, and the players were unable to resume.

Earlier in the day, Dimuth Karunaratne crawled to 12 and Kusal Mendis made a more breezy 31. The openers fell to Tim Southee, both caught behind by BJ Watling.

Mendis enjoyed a remarkable escape before his dismissal when a delivery from Doug Bracewell clipped his off stump but the bails remained in place.

Mitchell Santner and Watling combined to run out Udara Jayasundera for 26, and the busy New Zealand wicketkeeper was involved again in the fall of the fourth wicket, snagging an edge off Bracewell to remove Dinesh Chandimal for a snappy 47 from 56 balls.

The late rush of dismissals meant honours were effectively even heading to day two.

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