Wahab Riaz rues missing out on Champions Trophy triumph

The Pakistan seamer returned home due to injury after his team’s loss to India in the first match of the tournament.

Published : Jun 21, 2017 19:22 IST , Karachi

Wahab Riaz had to leave the field after bowling nine overs against India in Pakistan’s first game of the tournament.
Wahab Riaz had to leave the field after bowling nine overs against India in Pakistan’s first game of the tournament.

Wahab Riaz had to leave the field after bowling nine overs against India in Pakistan’s first game of the tournament.

Pakistan’s left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz has said missing out on the historic Champions Trophy triumph was a big regret.

“I had to return home injured due to torn ligaments near my ankle after the opening match against India. And it has been very difficult for me to sit through and watch the matches,” Wahab told PTI .

“I am very happy that the team did so well and won the trophy for the first time, because we are a team. But having remained a regular member of the Pakistan team in different formats for the last few years, sitting out from such an important event after being forced out by injury was a hard reality to accept,” he said.

Wahab, 31, had to leave the field after having conceded 87 runs for no wicket in the opening match against India, which Pakistan lost by a big margin. “It was a difficult match for all of us and we just came under too much pressure. We were nowhere to be honest in that match and I started feeling pain in my ankle after just three to four overs. But I kept on bowling because of the situation and because we wanted to restrict India,” Wahab said.

“I thought about leaving the field as the pain was intolerable but I kept on with it for three to four overs after which my ankle gave way and I collapsed,” he recalled.

The left-arm pacer, who has produced some memorable spells, including a five-for against India in the World Cup 2011 semifinal at Mohali and five wickets on his Test debut at the Oval in England in 2010, said he was recovering and would be fit within a week or 10 days’ time.

Mindset change

Wahab credited the turnaround in Pakistan’s fortunes to a team meeting held after the first match. “We all sat down and everyone spoke his mind. Coach Mickey Arthur told us that it didn’t matter if we lost or won. What mattered was we had to make our presence felt in the tournament as we were not there just to make up the numbers. He and Sarfaraz (captain) told everyone that they all had to change their mindset and go and play freely like other teams were doing,” he added.

Wahab said that the team meeting had changed everyone’s mood and everyone wanted to do well. “The key to any player doing well is for the management to back him up and I can say this - the captain and coach and other coaches have backed us up all the way. After the loss to India, we wanted to show everyone what we were capable of, that is why missing out and having to return home was so hard to accept.”

The fast bowler also said that after the first match everyone was simply at a loss for words. “I was so disappointed that I had not been able to do well. But at the meeting the captain and coach told us that the only way we could move forward was to play as a collective unit with everyone contributing,” he said.

Wahab also credited bowling coach Azhar Mahmood for bringing about a change in mindset for the bowlers. “You can look at the number of four or five wickets our bowlers have taken since he joined us and you can see he is making a difference to us,” he said.

Wahab said he was keen to make a strong comeback and answer those who criticised him after the India match. “I think at times some of the critics have been unfair in judging or assessing my performances. I have tried to do my best but to say I didn’t deserve to be on the team or play against India was grossly unfair. I will go back to my fundamentals and straighten things out.”

Wahab said captain Sarfraz had also advised him to focus a lot more on his batting. “Safi told me one day why don’t you concentrate on your batting as well. I have taken his advice seriously.”

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