Memory of late mother spurs Amir on to perform against India
Pakistan pace lynchpin Mohammad Amir says the memory of his late mother will motivate him to put up a strong showing with the ball in the high-stakes World Cup clash against bitter rivals India at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Amir made a blazing return to form by scorching through the strong Australian batting line-up in Wednesday's match at Taunton, registering career-best figures of 5-30 albeit in a losing cause.
Amir said he sought inspiration from his mother, Naseem Akhtar's words as she constantly prayed for his success and always believed in her son's abilities to make his country proud.
"My mother will definitely be praying for me from the heavens," Amir told AFP.
"She would always be found before the television and all the time praying for my success and her biggest wish was that I get five wickets, so when I got five I cried and remembered her words."
"The kind of rivalry between Pakistan and India was evident at my home and she always wanted me to come strong against India," recalled Amir.
Pakistan are in danger of being eliminated by the end of the group stage as they are placed at the ninth slot in the points table with just three points in four games.
A humiliating loss to the West Indies in their opening game was followed by a surprise win over England before persistent rain forced a washout against Sri Lanka and their last game versus Australia saw them taste defeat again.
Amir acknowledged Pakistan's precarious standing in the tournament and said it serves as extra motivation to get their act together quickly and triumph against India for the first time in World Cups.
"As a cricketer when you hold a bat or a ball and are at a ground then every match is the same. But fans, channels of both the sides, media and now social media create a hype.
"For us cricketers all matches are the same but, yes, our current situation on the points table is putting pressure on us to win this match and progress forward."
'Pumped up after five-wicket haul against Australia'
Amir spoke fondly of his bowling heroics in Pakistan's crucial contest against India in the Champions Trophy meeting two years ago at the Oval, where he dismissed the quality trio of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in quick succession.
Amir's 3-16 helped Pakistan to an astounding win in the final and he feels that fateful encounter honed his ability to deal with pressure situations.
"That was a high-pressure game so I learnt from that final. As a strike bowler everyone wanted me to take wickets and on that day I learned how to handle that pressure," said Amir.
Amir's exceptional spell of bowling against Australia, which raised his tally of wickets this tournament to 10, sends a warning to India that the 27-year-old can singlehandedly turn the game on its head if he is on-song.
An extended lean run had earlier kept him out of the team as he was not even considered for selection in the preliminary squad for the World Cup but he now comfortably leads Pakistan's pace attack.
"I am pumped up after getting wickets against Australia," he said.
"I am happy that wickets have come at the right time. When I was bowling well, even when I was not taking wickets, from captain to coach to bowling coach and my team-mates, everyone supported me.
"I never felt disheartened and my patience paid off."