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Riaz’s effort in vain

first_imgThere were many Pakistan fans who wanted Shoaib Akhtar in the team for the semi-final against India. After the Indian innings, they must have been happy that the Pakistan team management chose to ignore the Rawalpindi Express and put faith in the new kid on the block, Wahab Riaz.If Shahid Afridi’s men managed to restrict the hosts to a gettable 260 for nine in the allotted 50 overs, despite a number of howlers in the field, a major part of the credit has to go to the 25-year-old left-arm pacer. After Virender Sehwag had given a brisk start, Riaz first pegged India back by trapping the Delhi opener in front and just when the home team was going strong, he turned the match on its head by taking out Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh off successive deliveries in the 26th over. The full swinging delivery that got Yuvraj, playing on his home ground, was a treat to watch. Riaz then got the skids under any possible Indian assault in the late overs by getting rid of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni LBW and rounded off a superb spell by having Zaheer Khan caught behind in the last over.The enormity of the achievement – his maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs and that too in a World Cup semi-final against the archrivals – prompted him to kneel down before the Almighty. Anyone who has seen Riaz bowl will agree that there is something about him. Though he may not be in the Wasim Akram class yet and does not still have the ball that comes into the right-hander, there is another invaluable weapon in his armoury – pace. The left-armer was clocked at 149 km per hour once and was consistently above 140kmph. Riaz stepped in effortlessly on to the big stage and into the breach created by the considerable talent of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.advertisementWhen New Zealand’s Ross Taylor took a special liking to Akhtar in Pallekele, smashing him for 28 runs in one over – including three sixes and two fours – it prompted the veteran speedster to announce his retirement. The decision worked well for Pakistan. Riaz had not set the world on fire in the four matches he played before the semi-final, taking only three wickets. But he chose a grand stage to showcase his skill. Akram has interacted off and on with the youngster and if the Pakistan legend passes on some of his invaluable trade secrets and Riaz stays fit and motivated, the world can witness another fearsome paceman in full cry in the years to come.last_img read more