Wahab Riaz had once lost focus from cricket before returning to centre stage

Wahab Riaz
Wahab Riaz. (photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images)

If one of the few players who gave their all for Pakistan in the ICC World Cup 2019, it was Wahab Riaz. The 32-year-old left-arm seamer was not picked for Pakistan’s preliminary squad for the tournament but after the team failed to get its bowling act together in the ODI series against England just before the mega event, Riaz was called up. He made a comeback to the white-ball format after two years and hasn’t been disappointing, at least as far as the effort is concerned.

Riaz has been the joint second-most successful bowler for Pakistan in this tournament with 10 scalps along with Shaheen Afridi while the best is Mohammad Amir, the third left-arm pacer of the three. He also chipped in with the bat at times of need, like for example against Australia when he scored 45 to take his side close to the target. He also made a vital 15 not out against Afghanistan in their last match to win his side a thriller.

However, in a recent revelation, Riaz stated that cricket no longer remained a priority for him after his father passed away in February 2017. He stated that while struggled to come to terms with the reality of his father’s death, he also had to take responsibility of his family. It took months for the man, who will perhaps play his final World Cup game against Bangladesh at Lord’s on Friday, to get familiar with the reality.

“It broke me because I loved my father dearly and he had never put any responsibility on my shoulders – not me or anyone in the house. After he died, I had to take responsibility and deal with everything,” Riaz was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

It was after this tragedy in his life that Riaz’s attention was more on his family’s well-being and cricket took a backseat and he eventually lost his place in the national side.

“I lost my place in the Pakistan team because I was not concentrating that much on cricket,” he stated.

Also read – ICC World Cup 2019: How can Pakistan still make it to the semi-finals?

Riaz has bowled in World Cup at average of below 37

However, it was his good luck that Riaz was recalled in the national side, and that too for as big an event like the World Cup, replacing Junaid Khan. He has bowled at an average of 36.70 in the tournament with the best bowling figures of 3 for 46 against South Africa.

However, his dream of playing in yet another semi-final after 2011 looks to remain unfulfilled as Pakistan have a mountain to climb to reach the last four since they have a poor net run-rate.