Amir returns to international cricket after 5-year ban

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir made his return to international cricket Friday five years after his suspension and conviction for involvement in spot fixing.

Amir was included in the Pakistan team which met New Zealand in the first of three Twenty20 internationals at Auckland's Eden Park. The match was his first for Pakistan since August 2010 when, in a test against England at Lord's, he was revealed to have bowled two no-balls at set times according to instructions and in return for payment from gamblers.

Amir, who was 18 at the time, was banned for five years by the International Cricket Council and convicted along with teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif of conspiracy. He served three months of a six months sentence and was released in February, 2012.

His ban from international cricket expired in September.

Amir was regarded as one of cricket's most promising players at the time of his offending. He had become the youngest player in history to claim 50 test wickets and those in only 14 tests at an average of 29.

He claimed an additional 25 wickets at an average of 24 in one-day internationals and 23 wickets at 19.86 in 18 Twenty20 matches. Friday's match was his 19th Twenty20 for Pakistan and his first since July, 2010 when he played against Australia at Brimingham.

Amir is now 23 and won back his place in the Pakistan squad after outstanding form in Pakistan's domestic cricket when his suspension was ended early to allow him to resume his career.

His recall to the Pakistan team came in the face of strongly-expressed objections from some teammates, but he was supported by Pakistan coach Waqar Younis.

''We have got to let him come back,'' Younis told reporters before the team's departure from Pakistan. ''We have got to think positively about him and I think the media have to be positive about him as well. He has paid his price and we are ready to take him.''

Waqar said Amir expected to be subjected to special scrutiny on his return to international cricket.

''It is hard to exactly tell how the whole thing is going to come up but my experience says that he is a smart kid,'' Waqar said. ''Even at the age of 18 he was smart then. He knows what he is doing and he is ready for that challenge.''