Wahab Riaz can fill Misbah’s shoes

Published: March 22, 2015

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.

  • Prashant

    “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.”

    Knee- jerk reaction despite seeing the likes of Afridi who promised much as a player and a captain but did not deliver.

    Wahab is a fantastic bowler, does that mean he is also a captain’s material?Recommend

  • Faique Khan

    I’m absolutely delighted, sir that’s what I thought at the back of my head. Wahab Riaz has been a revelation for the men in green and the way he was charged up and passionate against the kangaroos was something we could cherish even after the elimination of the misbhi led team from the world cup but saying goodbye to Misbah even before he lift a world cup trophy looks to me a bit strange considering the type of cricketing presonanlity misbah has.So, I hereby recommend pcb to convince misbah to be a part of the odi’s and t -20 till the time he thinks his body is shaping up well and which might would have help the men in green to lift the t -20 world cup trophy due next year and in the process he would have help out determined sarfaraz or the energetic Wahab in making them a future captain but as for now misbah’s presence somewhere in the middle of the pakistani batting line up is of huge importance.
    @misbhi please keep on leading the men in green atleast for a year or two from now…Recommend

  • L.

    Wahab riaz or sarfraz ahmed. PCB please don’t think about Umar Akmal as a leader. Recommend

  • manutd

    wahab shud be the captain cuz he is a fighter,and has leadership abilitiesRecommend

  • zain khan

    Fitness is my only concern otherwise wahab gets my vote too!Recommend

  • ahmed

    I agree with you that Riaz has guts and every time he goes here he gives his 100 percent. He along with Ajmal, Hafeez, Faward and Sarfaraz are those players they give their all in every match.
    However we need to protect our players. I urge all of your readers to write to icc and use social media to tell them to stop practicing open racism by fining Wahab Riaz half his match fee and not a dime to Mitch Starc, Brad Haddin and few pennies to Shane Watson…Riaz even showed sportsmenship by shaking Watson after the game. Riaz didn’t utter a word and only let his ball do the talking and let Australians get taste of their own medicine. It was Australians who practicing sleging agaist Riaz.
    Also it shameful that not a single industrialist or a co came forward to pay his fine except a noble man like Brian Lara. We all need to support Wahab because he single handidly made millions fans in 6 over spell and entertained us with best bowling displayed since the great west Indian bowlers retired. We should boycott ICC if it continues to pratice its open racism.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    misbah’s shoes are full of lead. I doubt anyone can fill themRecommend

  • Asjad

    Yes I agree its high time they gave some responsibility to the youngsters and Wahab looks like the right guy since there are no othersRecommend

  • ahmed

    @Prashant it is hard to judge how he will fare as a captain…he is no Misnah or Dhoni etc but more in the mold of Kapil Dev, IK and Kohli. I think riaz is gracious and a good team mate and his agression is not team directed and goes against the opponents and he is an intelligent guy. I think Pakistan desperately needs a agressive no holds bar captain like him. He plays his heart out when he goes as batsman or a bowler unlike some others like Afridi who are completely washed out but refuse to leave. If you team respects you then u can be success. No one would ever think IK would be a good captain or KD perhaps but they were great captains.Recommend

  • ahmed

    Of course as another reader commented Misbah was never respected for his skill as a captain I think Pakistan has never produced a more humble and intelligent like MIsbah before and probably never will. A complete package of humility, patience and intelligence. India amd Pakistan has been fortunate two of the best captains of the game leading their teams at the same time. Dhoni is phenomenal in big games.Recommend

  • MaryamCheema

    I respect ur opinion however disagree with it, a captain should be calm and cool like Misbah, not one that loses his temper like WahabRecommend

  • NOTUmarAkmal

    Afridi was actually very successful as captain, he led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the 2011 WC and he himself was performing as well by taking 21 wickets in the tournament and becoming the joint leading wicket taker along with Zaheer Khan. His win % as captain was 75% which is quite good. His only problem was his dispute with coach Waqar Younis which cost him the captaincy, other wise he was a good captain.

    Thing about Wahab is that he is the only option right now, we dont know if he’ll make a good captain but he can certainly be groomed, it’s way better than giving captaincy to someone like Umar Akmal or Ahmed ShehzadRecommend

  • The Unexpected Virtue Of……

    Wahab is belligerent, i like thatRecommend

  • Omaidus Malik

    He was a reveleation in 2011 not in 2015, he lacks consistancy, period.Recommend

  • abhi

    There is so much being written about Wahab. I remember his good performance against India during 2011 semi final but somehow he was not given much importance. People were more fixated with others like Irfan and Gul who in my opinion are average bowlers. But I think the praise for Wahab now is little overdone just on the basis of one good spell. We need to see if he has the consistency and discipline or he is also flash in pan like Afridi.Recommend