The fight for a spot in Pakistan cricket team has become much more intense since the inception of Pakistan Super League (PSL), which has yielded a number of talented players. Due to this fresh and talented blood, a lot of existing players who were once regular features in the national side are now struggling for a place in the squad, including fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
The Fall of a Spearhead
Wahab Riaz was never a consistent performer but his occasional performances did earn him a slot in the depleted Pakistani bowling attack struggling from fitness issues and banned bowlers. However, his downfall was confirmed in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 when Pakistan faced India in the first match of the competition. The pacer was smashed all over the park and ended up with 87 runs off of his 8.4 overs. This was not the first occasion that this happened but it was a major event that caught everyone’s eyes.
Later, Shahid Afridi wrote in a column for the ICC website which stated:
Wahab Riaz was once the spearhead of this bowling attack but his performance was a major let down on such an important occasion.
Pakistan, unfortunately, lost the match and suddenly everyone was ready to take a dig at Wahab for his lackluster performance. The player then publicly apologized and said that “My performance has been a letdown and I apologize to Pakistan cricket team fans.” He further said that he is heartbroken as well.
However, the apology was not enough and Wahab Riaz was later ignored by Micky Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmed for the upcoming series. There was further humiliation for Wahab after Micky Arthur took center stage and voiced his opinion about the player.
He has not won us a game in two years. I expected players that have been around for a long time to be winning us games and setting standards. Otherwise we will invest in younger players who have long futures.
A Chance at Redemption?
After a controversial time in Pakistan, Wahab decided to move to England and sign for Derbyshire. Thus far, Wahab Riaz has played 7 matches for Derbyshire and remained an integral part of their T20 operation.
Wahab has picked up 9 wickets in his 8 appearances for Derbyshire. The complete overview is as below:
|vs. Lancashire||1 for 29 (2.3)||DNB*|
|vs. Worcestershire||0 for 15 (3)||7 (4)|
|vs. Nottinghamshire||0 for 26 (3)||6 (4)|
|vs. Lancashire||2 for 20 (4)||16 (11)|
|vs. Northamptonshire||1 for 41 (3.1)||DNB|
|vs. Leicestershire||2 for 26 (4)||DNB|
|vs. Yorkshire||2 for 34 (4)||DNB|
|vs. Yorkshire||1 for 19 (3)||42 (30)|
*DNB = Did Not Bat
Overall, Wahab has 9 wickets at an economy of 7.77 and with an average of 23.33. As far as his batting is concerned, he has batted 4 times and currently averages 17.75 with a strike-rate of 145. He has hit 10 boundaries and 2 maximums so far.
What’s interesting is that in the first three matches, Wahab batted in the lower order and could not make an impact. However, against Yorkshire (where he scored 42 runs), Wahab was promoted to no. 3 position.
Often times, players respond well to pressure and that is exactly what can be seen in Wahab’s case. However, such a change did not come at the back of sheer luck as Wahab has been spending hours improving and perfecting his technique. This suggests that Wahab is keen on offering more with his bat rather than ball alone.
If you look at the current situation of Pakistan’s team, Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan, both, who are relied upon as bowlers first are equally reliable with the bat. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why Wahab’s game is seeing such a change.
Nevertheless, this is a promising sign for Wahab that Derbyshire is trusting him with the responsibility with bat and bowl both. His spell at Derbyshire is likely going to determine his future.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.