Mohammad Amir is a man on a mission. Like most cricketers, he is looking to make up for lost time.
This period of 2020 should have been set aside for the T20 World Cup in Australia. But the coronavirus pandemic ruined that plan, and disrupted every sporting event. What the meant was cricketers spent a large section of the year waiting for assignments.
The stop-start nature of the calendar was tricky for another reason. Rustiness was bound to be a factor and cricketers had to play a fine balancing act to avoid injuries.
So you can imagine the pressure Amir must have been under bowling the Super Over in the first qualifier of the Pakistan Super League against Multan Sultans.
It was Amir's first match at the top level since the England T20 series in August. There were some domestic matches in the National T20 Cup in the lead up to the PSL playoffs, which had been rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but that was it.
And yet, Amir bowled one of the greatest super overs as he defended 14 runs against Multan batsmen Ravi Bopara and Rilee Rossouw; he did not concede a single boundary.
Some believe it to be one of the finest overs in limited overs cricket bowled by Amir. The left-arm fast bowler himself puts it right up there with his best efforts.
The 2017 Champions Trophy final against India where he dismissed Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli with the new ball, the 2016 Asia Cup where he breathed fire while defending just 83 against the Indians and his first over against Sri Lanka in the 2009 T20 World Cup final that saw the back of Tillakaratne Dilshan and set up the title win are his favourites. And now the Super Over in Karachi.
"It was one of my best overs," Amir told The National. "There are two or three overs or spells that I really liked. There was the Champions Trophy final. Then the Asia Cup match against India. Also the 2009 World Cup final over against Dilshan. They were my best spells and this was among them."
That one spectacular over sent Karachi to the final where they will face Lahore Qalandars on Tuesday.
Pulling off such a performance after being away from top level cricket for a long time was no mean feat. Amir said keeping his bowling muscles in shape in the domestic circuit helped.
"It was difficult. There was a break of almost six or seven months. Such a break for an athlete is very tough. If a fast bowler doesn't bowl for a week, he goes back [in his game]. But cricket started and I kept bowling in England. And then in Pakistan, I was playing the National T20 Cup. So I had a bit of momentum coming into the PSL. And regardless, I continued my training at home,” the 28-year-old said.
And being the senior bowler, who now plays white ball exclusively, Amir knew what he had to do to succeed in the Super Over – yorkers at the fifth stump and wider.
“As a senior player, the coach and captain ask you what your plan is. As a player, you should always discuss and look at different ideas. At the end of the day, a player backs his skills. So whenever there is pressure, I keep things simple and stick to my plans,” he explained.
It was an extra special result for Amir and the Karachi franchise. This was their first match since the tragic death of their coach and renowned commentator Dean Jones while on IPL duty.
Karachi and Multan players paid a special tribute to the late Aussie before a start of the qualifier and Amir said he hopes to win the title on Tuesday for the beloved coach.
“I always enjoyed working with Mickey Arthur. And then with Dean Jones. He was one of the best coaches in the world. The energy he brought to Karachi Kings is something we will always miss. That energy brought us this far.
"What I really liked about him was that he was always very positive. His knowledge was of a very high level. We will always miss him and if we win the final, it will be for Dean Jones.”
What may also motivate Amir is getting snubbed by the national selectors for the limited overs tour of New Zealand. For a specialist limited overs bowler like Amir, it must have been a tough pill to swallow. His Super Over exploits, however, have come at just the right time as a reminder of his talent.
“As a cricketer, if you are dropped, your thought is that 'I will perform when I get my next opportunity'. The Super Over was a pressure situation. Allah gave me the opportunity. This is what I can do. They [selectors] have their thinking. Only they can tell why I am not in their plans. But as a player, all I can do is perform.”