World Cup 2019: Wahab Riaz, a bowler of great World Cup spells

The left-arm pacer was only a late addition to Pakistan's World Cup squad.

Wahab Riaz celebrates the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.   -  AP

Wahab Riaz, on Monday, reignited his love affair with World Cups by delivering a crucial spell that helped Pakistan wrest control of a close contest against England at Trent Bridge and go on to win the match by 14 runs.

The left-arm pacer finished with figures of three for 82 in 10 overs and was on a hat-trick at the start of the final over of the match. Wahab dismissed Jonny Bairstow with an offcutter early on to dent England, but it was his ninth over (the 47th of the English innings) that tilted the match in Pakistan's favour. He removed Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes off the fifth and sixth ball of the over, having been hit for nine runs off the first four balls, including for a six over long-off by Woakes. England had needed 38 runs off 18 balls at the start of the 47th over.

Wahab wasn't part of the 17-man provisional World Cup squad that played the five-match series in England a fortnight before the tournament began. In fact, he hadn't played an ODI for Pakistan since its victorious Champions Trophy campaign in 2017, with head coach Mickey Arthur critical of Wahab's work ethic and going on to say, in April 2018, "he (Wahab Riaz) hasn't won us a game in two years".

The 33-year-old pacer was, against all the odds, named in Pakistan's World Cup squad, replacing Faheem Ashraf, and against England, he provided a reminder of being a wicket-taker who can make a difference despite his tendency to be expensive.

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This is not the first time that Wahab has bowled an explosive spell in a World Cup.

His epic duel with Shane Watson in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal at the Adelaide Oval is well-documented. It was a hostile spell that had the Adelaide crowd on the edge of their seats. Wahab delivered a barrage of bouncers to Watson in a payback to being taunted by the all-rounder when he batted. And after almost every delivery, Wahab got himself in the batsman's face and clapped him sarcastically. On that occasion, Wahab finished with two for 54, but it was a spell that's remembered more for the theatre he created bowling to Watson, softening him up and nearly winning the battle but for a drop catch.

Four years earlier, in the 2011 World Cup semifinal in Mohali, Wahab took five for 46 against India in another epic spell aided by reverse swing with the old ball. The standout delivery of that spell was Wahab bowling Yuvraj Singh for a first-ball duck with an inswinging yorker. Wahab's scalps included Virat Kohli, M. S. Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan, helping his team restrict the arch-rival to 260.

Playing his third successive World Cup, Wahab's wicket-taking ability makes him a key component of Pakistan's bowling attack.

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