ISLAMABAD: Haling pacer Wahab Riaz’s magnificent spell of fast bowling in the quarterfinal against Australia, former Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said that it was one of the most lethal spells of left-arm fast bowling he had seen for a long time in international cricket.
“The way Wahab tested Shane Watson with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, it reminded me the fiery days of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar,” Inzamam wrote in his column for ICC website on Saturday.
He said Wahab was lethal and more importantly accurate.
“The way he made Shane hop and jump not only made the match look fascinating but also exposed Australia’s vulnerability against short and express fast bowling,” he said.
He said in the coming days, a lot would be written and said about the contest between Wahab and Shane adding, “I hope people don’t forget the way Wahab accounted for Clarke, one of the finest batsmen against genuine fast bowling.”
“Who knows what the result could have been had Rahat Ali caught Watson and Sohail Khan didn’t drop Maxwell ” Inzamam said.
He also lauded other fast bowlers saying that it were they, who brought the team this far in the tournament.
“Only against the UAE, the batsmen were able to take the side past the 300-run mark.
Victories against teams like the United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Zimbabwe were expected but they didn’t come easy either. But look at the losses – India, West Indies and Australia – three powerhouses of cricket.”
He said the only silver lining in an otherwise below par ICC Cricket World Cup for Pakistan was the hostile bowling of Wahab and the emergence of Sarfraz Ahmed as opening batsman.
“Adam Gilchrist used to open in one-day internationals for Australia and I can’t see any reason why Sarfraz cannot be groomed on similar lines.
When a team has a wicketkeeper-batsman, it gives it a leverage of adding a regular bowler and field a more aggressive playing XI,” he added.
Inazamam felt sorry for Shahid Afridi, who was playing in his last World Cup.
He said Afridi seemed to have lost bite in his bowling and those fastish leg-spinners, which used to trouble batsmen around the world when he was at his best, were hard to spot out in this World Cup.
He was also critical of Misbah-ul-Haq, who was also playing his last world cup saying that he consumed too much time to take decisions like ignoring Sarfraz for the first four successive pool matches.
“Had he showed some more aggression, like Imran Khan did in the twilight of his career, it would have been more beneficial for Pakistan.”
“When a captain retires, he leaves behind a fleet of players who could serve the team.
Unfortunately, minus Misbah, Pakistan has a barren-looking middle-order.
Nobody is sure at which number he will get a chance in future. Umar, Sohaib, Haris don’t know where their international careers are heading,” he added.
Inzamam said it was sad that a player like Younis Khan couldn’t be slotted regularly in the World Cup matches.
After Misbah we have to really start from scratch to form the nucleus of our middle-order batting and I am afraid it won’t be that easy at all, he remarked.
He said that the team management of Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed and Grant Flower didn’t carry magic wands to Australia and New Zealand and it would be inappropriate to point fingers at them.
“The same is the case with the players, they don’t deserve to get the bashing like we received after we lost the 1999 World Cup final against Australia,” the former captain said.
He said Pakistan Cricket Board needed to sort out the chronic problem of finding the right structure of domestic cricket so that more players come through to play competitive cricket.