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Pakistan touch down in UK without Amir

Left-armer yet to be granted visa but Pakistan optimistic he'll join the squad this week ahead of Ireland, England Tests

Pakistan's squad has arrived in the United Kingdom for their Tests against Ireland and England but are without their bowling spearhead Mohammad Amir.

The prodigious left-armer, who was handed a six-month jail term and five-year ban by the International Cricket Council for spot-fixing in the 2010 Lord's Test against England, is still to depart Pakistan, with his visa for the United Kingdom yet to be granted.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is nonetheless confident Amir will be permitted to join his teammates in London this week.

"He didn't travel with the team as we are still awaiting for his visa," a PCB spokesperson told ESPN

"His visa status is still pending but we are optimistic that he is mostly likely to get the visa by Wednesday before he starts his journey same day."

From the vault: Amir's fiery spell to Australia

Amir, who is married to a British citizen and whose son was born in the UK last year, made his comeback to international cricket in Pakistan's memorable 2016 four-Test series against England.

The 2010 controversy aside, the UK has been a happy hunting ground for Amir; he's collected 42 wickets at 26.26 in 10 Tests on British soil and helped lead Pakistan to last year's ODI Champions Trophy crown, defeating arch-rivals India at The Oval in the final.

Pakistan thrash India to claim Champions Trophy

He also picked up 14 wickets at 13.50 in three County Championship matches for Division One title-winners Essex in 2017.

Presuming he's granted a visa, the 26-year-old is set to lead a Pakistan bowling attack minus star leg-spinner Yasir Shah (injured) and mercurial quick Wahab Riaz (omitted) for their three Tests on the British Isles.

Yasir (19 wickets in four Tests), Amir (12 in four Tests) and Wahab (10 in three Tests) were Pakistan's three leading bowlers on their 2016 tour of England, which saw them claim a famous victory at Lord's in the series opener. On the back of the 2-2 series draw, the Misbah-ul-Haq-led side later briefly clinched the No.1 Test ranking.

Despite Yasir and Wahab's absence for the upcoming tour, assistant coach Azhar Mahmood is confident of Pakistan's bowling stocks.

"The pacers who have been selected have all been playing quite a bit of cricket lately and they are all in form," Mahmood told the Express Tribune. "The fitness tests have shown that the players are fit and will hopefully be available throughout the series."

"This is a game of minds and you have to tire the batsman out and then attack his weak areas to dismiss him. These players will be really suitable to the conditions in England and Ireland where our focus would be to use less pace and more technique.

"Playing practice matches in Ireland will help the players get used to the conditions and adapt to them. The conditions in Ireland and England are similar which will help Pakistan before they play the main matches."

Pakistan are set to take on Ireland in the nation's historic debut Test in Dublin from May 11, before two more Tests against England from May 24 and June 1 at Lord's and Headingley respectively.