Imagine a bowler bowling a fiery bouncer to a batsman which fizzes past his ears. The batsman has no clue as to what shot to elect against the bowler. He then comes up to the batsmen and mockingly claps at him for being beaten. You can recognize him as left handed pacer Wahab Riaz, who single handedly changed the entire feeling of the quarter final when he was bowling to Australia’s Shane Watson.
Wahab Riaz was not made to open the bowling attack for Pakistan but his performance throughout the tournament has to be lauded. He consistently bowled at 90 mph, grabbed wickets during crucial moments for the green shirts and performed like a fighter throughout the tournament.
In Pakistan’s opening match against India, Riaz got one wicket and conceded 49 runs in his 10 overs. He scored just four runs before being caught out from the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
He failed to make an impact against West Indies as he dismissed just one batsman but made a strong comeback in the team after taking four wickets against Zimbabwe and also scored a crucial half century. He also contributed in the field by getting one batsman run out.
In the match against United Arab Emirates (UAE), the left arm pacer took two wickets in his allotted 10 overs and managed to hit a six on the first and only ball he faced in the innings.
Riaz took his game to the next level in Pakistan’s key match against South Africa. He took three crucial wickets of Hashim Amla, Rilee Rossouw and Imran Tahir helping his side to win the match by 29 runs.
The left armer became the stand out bowler for Pakistan in the game against Ireland as he grabbed three wickets to ensure that Pakistan enters the quarter final stage of the World Cup.
Pakistan’s quarter final was against Australia at Adelaide. Riaz bowled his heart out and his lethal and aggressive spell against Shane Watson will be one of the most memorable in cricket’s history.
Watson had no reply to Wahab’s bouncers and short deliveries and Riaz kept telling him to hit the ball. Watson, under pressure, skied the ball as he tried to pull the pacer but the chance for a breakthrough was missed as Rahat Ali dropped the simple catch which proved to be a decisive factor in the match.
He was left disappointed for the second time when Sohail Khan dropped Maxwell’s catch from his bowling. The co-hosts then went on to qualify for the semi-final as they won the game by six wickets. The two dropped catches will leave us wondering whether Pakistan would have gone on to win the match if they had capitalized on those opportunities created by Riaz.
The spell was lauded by cricketing legends and players such as Brian Lara, Michael Clarke, Kevin Pietersen and even Shane Watson himself.
As Misbah retires from ODI cricket, the cricket crazy nation will be thinking if Riaz is the suitable candidate for leading the green shirts due to his approach in the game. He bowled his heart out during the tournament and revived the prime days of bowling legend Wasim Akram.