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02 December 2023

Pakistan's Riaz reveals all-round ambition

Pakistan bowler Wahab Riaz (right) reacts after getting the wicket of Zimbabwe batsman Tawanda Mupariwa during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool B match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe at the Gabba Stadium in Brisbane on March 1, 2015. (AFP)


Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz is aiming to become a genuine all-rounder after starring with both bat and ball at the World Cup.

The 29-year-old smashed his maiden one-day half-century besides taking four for 45 in Pakistan's hard-fought win over Zimbabwe in Brisbane on Sunday, their first victory of this World Cup.

Riaz helped skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (73) to lift Pakistan from a precarious 155 for six during their 47-run stand for the seventh wicket.

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He then reduced Zimbabwe, along with fellow left-arm paceman Mohammad Irfan (four for 30), to 215 all out, chasing 236, as Pakistan won by 20 runs after Pool B defeats by both India and the West Indies.

"It was my best innings," Riaz told reporters ahead of Pakistan's fourth pool match against the United Arab Emirates in Napier on Wednesday.

"It was much-needed so I had to give support initially and then hit out at the end. I am happy that I played my part in both batting and bowling."

Riaz said he wanted to become an all-rounder but that this would take time.

"Obviously, I cannot become an all-rounder overnight and with one or two good innings. The team management has worked really hard on me and I am encouraged to bat in the nets, so I am trying to achieve that with resolve and determination," said Riaz.

Riaz's career has suffered due to injury problems and a lack of consistency since he took an impressive five wickets during Pakistan's defeat by eventual champions India in the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Mohali.

"I think after Mohali we have played most of our cricket in the UAE," said Riaz of the Gulf state which has staged most of Pakistan's 'home' matches since the country became a "no go" area for international sides following a terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

"In the UAE, spinners did well and we had Saeed Ajmal as the number one spinner.

"Ajmal is not here, so we each have more responsibility and everyone is trying to play his part," said Riaz.

Ajmal was suspended over an illegal bowling action in September and was only cleared after Pakistan announced their World Cup squad last month.

Riaz added having legendary paceman Waqar Younis as head coach had been a boost to Pakistan's attack.

"Waqar was a great bowler and having him as coach has helped a great deal as he shares his experience with all the bowlers," said Riaz.