March 23, 2015

Wahab Riaz bowled his heart out as Pakistan defended a modest 213 in the World Cup quarterfinal against Australia at Adelaide. Riaz’s 2/54 went in vain as Australia won by six wickets.

Pakistan have been knocked out of the World Cup but they went out in some style. Wahab Riaz produced a nasty and ferocious spell and had the Australians hopping like cats on a hot tin roof on a bouncy Adelaide track. Defending a paltry 213, Pakistan had no option but to come out firing and bowl the Aussies out on Friday. Riaz took the lead and almost handed the Pakistanis an improbable chance of sneaking out a victory. Wasim Akram called Riaz, the “special one.”

It all began during the Pakistani batting though. Riaz came out to bat while Mitchell Starc was in between a fierce spell. Riaz missed a full delivery and Starc had a few words of advice for him — he described how the cricket ball looked like. That was enough to fire the Pakistani left-handed speedster. After Rahat Ali removed Aaron Finch, Riaz went on a rampage. David Warner fell to an upper cut and then Riaz went to battle with Shane Watson. The Australian all-rounder has been short of form and Riaz went for broke against him.

Riaz peppered him with short deliveries and left him shell-shocked with his pace. The Adelaide pitch became an aid and Watson survived one of the most hostile spells of fast bowling in World Cup history. Talking to STAR Sports, Riaz said, “I had a plan against Watson. I knew he was struggling and wanted to rough him up.”The Pakistani speedster also rued about the fact that the batsmen failed to give the bowlers a decent target, “213 was too less. We needed at least 250 to defend.”

Micheal Clarke, the Australian captain who failed to negotiate a bouncer from Riaz, said, “I thought Wahab bowled really well but I am glad we managed to win.” Not only Clarke, Riaz, with his exceptional display, impressed the legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram. He called Riaz “special one”. “Wahab Riaz is something special. Pakistan must stick with him”, said the former Pakistani speedster. Riaz has spent long spells on the sidelines after being ignored by the national selectors. Shane Warne too agreed and said that Riaz’s spell was one of the best that he has witnessed in his life.

Talking about Riaz, Akram also explained how the left-armer once struggled with his stock delivery, the out-swinger. Riaz, more concerned with reverse swing, lost his wrist action and would often spray the ball around. “I asked him to stick to his basics”, Akram said, “I explained him to get his out-swinger sorted and then the reverse would happen naturally.” Pakistan have bowed out of the tournament and this World Cup, they have had a few forgettable performances.

They started off their campaign miserably, bounced back with four wins in-a-row, found a new opener in Sarfraz Ahmed but the highlight for cricket fans will be a feisty Riaz blowing a kiss to Watson after ripping one past his nose.


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