A month after delivering a fiery opening spell which won Pakistan a Champions Trophy title against arch-rivals India, pacer Mohammad Amir is in a good space. Currently involved in a county stint with Essex, the 25-year-old left-arm pacer is enjoying his time.

And not for the first time, he spoke about his great respect for India’s batsmen, especially Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, as revealed in a free-wheeling interview with SkySports on Thursday.

Back in March 2016, Rohit Sharma had played down the hype on Amir, calling him a “normal” bowler and asking the media to stop talking about him. As fate would have it, the pacer dismissed Sharma in the first over of the final but hasn’t held a grudge towards the India opener.

“That was his opinion about me and he is entitled to that opinion. Maybe his opinion about me has now changed,” said Amir. “But let’s get one thing clear, I would never call him an ordinary batsman, in fact, I would call him an extraordinary batsman. His record for India is superb and I respect him.”

In the same final, Azhar Ali dropped a easy catch off Virat Kohli in the slips. It could have been a huge let-off but Kohli was dismissed the next ball by Amir, leaving Pakistan ectastic.

“Naturally, I was angry and upset when the catch was dropped and I immediately thought, ‘Oh No’, we could now lose this match as Kohli is such a great batsman and match-winner and he could make us pay for such a mistake,” recalled the left-arm pacer. “However I was relieved and all smiles when the very next ball I got rid of him.”

Amir showered praise on the Indian captain, calling him “the best batsman in the world”. “Whenever we meet we always greet each other with respect. There is a bond and a friendship between us, a mutual respect and we are always pleased to see each other,” he said.

Of course, Amir is not a regular bowler, he has a dark past which will haunt him through his entire career. After being implicated in a match-fixing scandal in 2010, he served out a ban and was allowed to come back to the game, a decision which divided many.

“The best way to change opinions about you as a sportsman is by performing well,” said the bowler, on those who criticised his re-integration in the team. “My focus is on being a good ambassador for my country on and off the field. I am aware that I cannot please everyone, but I sincerely feel that many people have changed their minds about me and I am grateful to them for that.”

However, he added that the events in 2010 were a “very tough time in his life” and he had learnt “harsh lessons”. “I will always maintain that any young cricketer can learn a lot from what happened to me. But dedication, honesty and hard-work will always prevail,” he said.

But Amir also sounded a little annoyed at those expecting miracles from him on his return. “I never touched a cricket ball during my ban yet people expected me to come back to international cricket and make an instant impact,” said the pacer. “That was an impossible task and yet critics were writing me off straight after my comeback. It’s been about 18 months since my comeback and I think I am now showing the results of the hard work that I have put in.”

While stating that he was in a happy place at Essex, he preferred to remain wary about looking too far ahead in the future. “I set myself short-term goals and steadily those goals are being achieved which is really pleasing for me,” he summed up.