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The spell to Shane Watson changed my fortunes - Wahab Riaz

The spell to Shane Watson changed my fortunes - Wahab Riaz
Wahab Riaz (centre) bowled one of the deadly spells to Shane Watson (left) in the World Cup quarter-final encounter between Pakistan and Australia.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz believes the World Cup quarter-final spell he bowled to Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has made him a completely different bowler.

Chasing 214 for a victory, Australia were put in a spot of bother by Riaz when he dismissed David Warner early on caught at third man with a fierce bouncer.

Riaz bowled one of the best fast bowling spells in the World Cup hustling Michael Clarke and really testing his back. Eventually he got him out caught at covers.

At 59 for three, Australia were in deep trouble and Riaz decided to pepper Shane Watson with a series of short pitch deliveries, only for Rahat Ali to drop the Australian all-rounder at deep fine leg.

Riaz didn't have the luck on his side as Sohail Khan dropped another chance at third man - this time of Glenn Maxwell.

Both Watson and Maxwell added an unbeaten 68-run stand overhauling Pakistan's total and securing a semi-final berth for Australia.

The spell from Riaz received rich applauds from the cricketing fraternities with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting described the contest as "cricket at its absolute best." 

Riaz believes the spell in the quarter-final has instilled the belief and confidence in him to give his best even in difficult conditions.

“Lots has changed since the Watson spell – I gained a lot of confidence and it told me a lot about my capabilities," Riaz told in an exclusive interview to PakPassion.net.

"The spell to Watson has made me a different bowler.

"So I find things a lot easier now, even in difficult conditions. I have that belief in my ability and skills that I can perform on any track.

"I have done a lot of work on my wrist position - I’ve always had a lot of pace, the difference is that now it seems a bit more threatening.” 

In the first innings of the second Test against Pakistan in Dubai, England were 206 for three at one stage, but Riaz's spell changed the complexion of the game which won him his first man of the match award.

The 30-year-old dismissed Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in a span of 10 runs as England got dismissed for 242 in their first innings, thereby conceding a crucial 136-run lead to Pakistan.

Riaz revealed that he wanted to break the momentum of England batsmen by using the reverse swing.

“I tried to break England’s momentum and we knew how crucial that first session was.

"So we planned beforehand to try to take early wickets.

"Fortunately the ball was reversing so I tried to make use of that to get the batsmen out.

"Thankfully it was successful." 

The Lahore fast bowler opined that the key to bowl in the unresponsive pitches of the United Arab Emirates was to make the new ball count and once the ball gets old, it is important to bowl tight and create the pressure on the batsmen.

“These wickets are very good for batting so obviously there isn’t a lot of help for fast bowlers.

"The only chance you have of taking wickets is either with the new ball or if the ball starts reverse swinging later on.

"My plan is to attack with the new ball and try to take wickets as that puts a lot of pressure on the batting team from the start.

"After that I try to focus on bowling a consistent line so as not to leak runs.” 

At one stage with England being six down at the end of first session on day five, Pakistan looked assured of a win, but England's lower-order led by Adil Rashid showed a lot of resilience stretching the game to the final hour.

Riaz had high accolades for the England lower-order for the fight they displayed.

“England were playing very well and the lower order batted for a long time.

"We were getting to a position where we knew we really needed to get them out and the pressure was increasing as we were running out of overs.

"We were trying our level best and hoping that we could bowl them out, and thankfully it happened in the end.” 

Having won the second Test and secured an unassailable lead of 1-0 in the series, Pakistan will lock horns with England in the third and final Test in Sharjah on 1st November.

© Cricket World 2015