Speedy recovery: Wahab hopes to join team before end of ODI series

Pacer talks to The Express Tribune about injury, added responsibility, becoming an all-rounder, PSL.


Nabeel Hashmi July 13, 2015
Wahab helped Pakistan win the first Test against Sri Lanka before getting injured in the second, and hopes he can play a part in the ODI series. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI:


Pakistan’s pace spearhead Wahab Riaz, who is nursing a minor hand fracture, wants to rejoin the team as soon as possible in order to help them qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy.


The 30-year-old was hit on the glove during the second Test by Sri Lankan fast-bowling sensation Dushmantha Chameera, which resulted in a non-displaced fracture of the base of the fourth MCP bone. Wahab was flown back to Pakistan as he required three weeks to recover, according to team physio Brad Robinson.

With Pakistan involved in a five-match ODI series against the Islanders — a series they lead 1-0 —Wahab is hoping that he is able to regain fitness and join the squad, with two T20s to follow.

“I want to join the team as soon as I can because Pakistan are in a difficult situation with the Champions Trophy qualification at stake,” Wahab told The Express Tribune. “It’s unfortunate that I’m out injured at such a crucial juncture but I’m keeping myself fit by training regularly. If the selectors and the medical panel give me clearance to play, I would like to join the team during the series.”

Chief selector Haroon Rasheed had also expressed hope that Wahab recovers quickly but said that any decision to send him to Sri Lanka will depend on his scans.

Read: Wahab Riaz out of Test series after injury

In his absence, Wahab hopes that his teammates will continue performing well against Sri Lanka after getting off to a winning start in the ODIs.

Wahab’s speed has been welcome in a Pakistan bowling attack uncharacteristically devoid of express pace, with the Wahab perhaps the only bowler of the lot to trouble the batsmen with his pace alone.

Since the ODI World Cup earlier this year, Wahab has emerged as the spearhead of Pakistan’s pace attack ahead of Muhammad Irfan and Junaid Khan, and it is a challenge the left-armer is relishing.

“I’m enjoying being the spearhead of our pace attack because the added responsibility has brought the best out of me,” he said. “You grow up watching the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar leading the attack and to be able to do the same is really pleasing.”

Read: I'll pay Wahab Riaz's fine: Brian Lara

But Wahab wants to contribute more to the team than just with the ball, and he has shown in glimpses the potential of becoming a genuine all-rounder with several impressing batting contributions.

The improvements with the bat, however, have come after a lot of hard work. “My batting is improving because I’ve worked really hard to become an all-rounder who can contribute important runs when my team needs me,” he said. “Thankfully, I’ve been able to play a few crucial knocks in recent times, including one in the world cup as well.”

Despite clashes against England, India and New Zealand to look forward to, along with the World T20, Wahab is refusing to get carried away and set himself long-term goals. Instead, he wants to go match by match.

However, the Lahore-based pacer is looking forward to Pakistan’s proposed high-profile T20 league to rival the likes of the Big Bash and Indian Premier League, and hopes that the process will be sped up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). “The PCB is taking a great initiative by launching our own T20 league because it will allow the players to play in a competitive environment and under pressure,” he said. “This will certainly take our cricket to a different level and sharing a dressing room with international stars will be really helpful for our domestic players.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th,  2015.

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