Wahab Riaz can fill Misbah’s shoes

Published: March 22, 2015
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In a single spell of six overs, Wahab showcased an epic display of fast-bowling which had the likes of Shane Watson begging for mercy. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan’s World Cup campaign came to an end yesterday, and while many expected the Aussies to emerge victorious, very few had expected Wahab Riaz to put up a fight the way he did.

Photo: AFP

Pakistan’s batting and fielding proved to be the biggest shortcoming yesterday, yet again, and defending a measly total of 213 proved too much for the bowlers this time. While Australia managed to dominate most of the match, there was a short spell of 12 overs or so when this was not the case.

In a single spell of six overs, Wahab showcased an epic display of fast-bowling which had the likes of Shane Watson begging for mercy and nearly everyone in the world was left singing his praises. Wahab was aggressive and up in Watson’s face with every ball he bowled.

Photo: AFP

At times, it felt that he was the only player on the pitch who wanted to win and you could see it on his face and through his attitude. Bowling with fire and passion, he threw everything he had, with the exception of a kitchen sink, at Watson. If Rahat Ali would have not dropped the catch at short fine leg, the story could have been very different.

Photo: AFP

Rahat Ali drops a catch. Photo: AFP

But what’s done is done; it is time for us to march forward instead of dwelling on the past. Currently, the most imperative thing is deciding who will be Pakistan’s next ODI captain with both Misbahul Haq and Shahid Afridi gone.

Photo: AFP

Candidates for the captaincy are only a handful. Till last year, Ahmed Shehzad was a viable candidate but his disciplinary issues and inconsistent form have put him out of the running; Mohammad Hafeez along with Younus Khan are the most experienced ODI players. However, Hafeez proved highly ineffective as a captain when he captained the team in the 2014 T20 World Cup and the result was him quitting as captain.

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Fawad Alam, in my opinion, looks like someone who has the capabilities to become a captain one day, but first he needs the support of the selectors and a place on the team. Therefore, Wahab seems like the best option, and with his current form, I feel Pakistan should choose him.

Photo: AFP

The thing about Wahab is that he has always been a good, if not great, bowler. His performance against India in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, where he picked up five wickets for 46 runs, showed us what he was capable of. However, recently, he has been an absolute revelation with the ball. His control over pace and bounce is astounding and he can vary his pace quite well. He has the required swing and the ability to bowl some of the best yorkers in the world.

Wahab Riaz is ecstatic after knocking over MS Dhoni. Photo: AFP

One thing that has threatened his progress is his inconsistency due to his injuries. Also, his performance lacks experience, because even though he made his ODI debut way back in 2008, he has only played 54 ODI matches so far. Many will say his economy rate is also a concern but I feel it is something you have to accept if you are an attacking bowler like Wahab.

In yesterday’s single venomous spell, I think Wahab firmly established himself as one of the best fast-bowlers in the world; he was already experiencing a creeping rise but yesterday was the cherry on top.

Photo: AFP

Another thing that particularly impressed me about Wahab was the extreme aggression he showed, which was justified since he could back it up with his performance. It is something you expect from fast-bowlers and something Australians are not afraid to express.

If he can bring the same aggression to his captaincy, it could lead Pakistan in a new and different direction and would be a change from Misbah’s calm and cool-headed approach. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan has to take a chance on their younger players sooner or later, because it will not be long before the likes of Misbah and Younus will be retiring from the longer format as well.

Grooming the younger players should be critical right now. Luckily, at the age of 29, Wahab is neither too young nor too old and has just about enough experience to captain the team. Yes, it will be a risky move as fast-bowlers tend to get injured more easily as compared to batsmen but there have been great captains who were fast-bowlers – Imran KhanKapil Dev and Wasim Akram are just a few names.

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

So please choose Wahab, as he seems to be one of the few players who can prove to be adequate captains. His captaincy could be what Pakistani cricket is lacking and in dire need of.

I vote Wahab Riaz for captain.

Khalid Rafi

Khalid Rafi

The author enjoys writing and is passionate about Pakistan Cricket. He tweets @TheKhalidRafi (twitter.com/TheKhalidRafi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.