LEEDS, England: With a fractured hand, Wahab Riaz walked towards the wicket with Pakistan still needing 22 from 20 balls to keep their World Cup semi-final hopes alive.
Pakistan had lost skipper Sarfaraz Ahmad and Shadab Khan to two needless run-out dismissals and were dangerously close to an upset defeat against Afghanistan that would have almost ended their title hopes.
Though in a lot of pain, Wahab knew he had to finish off the job with Imad Wasim.
“The dressing room went all quiet (after Shadab got out),” Wahab said after the game.
“But then everyone started saying that we can do it. Sarfaraz came up to me and told me it could be done,” Wahab said.
So what was on Wahab’s mind as he walked out of the dressing to play perhaps the most important innings of his international career?
He was just pleading for divine help.
“I was in a lot of pain. I just looked up and hoped Allah will help me. I left it to Him. And he helped me.”
Wahab hit a six and a four in his 9-ball 15 as Pakistan managed to win the game by three wickets thanks to an unbeaten 49 by Imad Wasim.
Wahab almost didn’t play on Wednesday after fracturing his non-bowling hand during a pre-match training session.
“I was asked in the morning as to how much pain I could cope with. I told them that I can bowl but might not be able to give my best in batting and fielding. The captain asked me whether I was sure of giving my hundred percent with the ball. I assured him that I will. He told me that I’m playing. That gave me a lot of confidence,” said Wahab, who bowled eight impressive overs, picking up 2-29.
So can Wahab play in Pakistan’s last group game against Bangladesh? It will be yet another do-or-die match for the Pakistan in which they would need Wahab’s experience to stay in the hunt for a place in World Cup semi-finals.
“I was in a lot of pain today. But if I managed to play today then I can play against Bangladesh as well,” said Wahab about the July 5 game to be held at Lord’s.
There were a lot of clashes among fans in the stands at Edgbaston during the match. But Wahab said that such things can happen in high-pressure encounters.
“There were people from different countries sitting there watching a very high-intensity, high-pressure match,” he said.
Wednesday’s narrow defeat was Afghanistan’s eight consecutive loss in the World Cup. But despite their losing spree, Wahab believes that the Afghans were a dangerous team.
“They are a tough team,” he said. “Afghanistan have a very good bowling line. They have some of the best spinners in the world. I think in the future, Afghanistan will be one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
The first world championship Test will start at SuperSport Park in Centurion on December 26
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