KARACHI: Wahab Riaz’s hopes of testing out his right knee after a 27-day layoff suffered a setback here on Thursday when the Pakistan fast bowler reported with a stiff neck.
The 29-year-old left-armer was forced to pull out of the National Bank line-up for their fifth-round Gold League game in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship against Karachi Dolphins here at the National Stadium.
Talking to reporters, Wahab said he remained confident of recovering from the latest setback to return as soon as possible to competitive cricket following the completion of a rehabilitation period after he picked the knee injury during the second ODI against in Dubai on Oct 10.
“I was looking forward to this match here [in Karachi] to test my knee but unfortunately I woke up in the morning with a stiff neck; I could barely move my head sideways because it was quite painful,” Wahab said. “But hopefully I’ll be fit to play against Lahore Lions in the next round [from Nov 12]. I’ll leave for Lahore tomorrow [Friday] and take rest.”
Wahab sounded confident that he would be available for the remaining two Tests of the upcoming New Zealand series and the subsequent limited-overs matches against the Black Caps.
“Basically, I’m keeping my fingers crossed at this stage because first I need to prove that I’ve regained complete fitness. As a fast bowler one has got to be fully fit and I won’t risk myself until then,” Wahab remarked.
“Hopefully, once I get back on the field in the next match [of the Quaid Trophy] things would get better for me.
Realistically speaking, I remain pretty optimistic that at some stage of the New Zealand series I’ll probably get a chance to get back in international cricket.”
Wahab was all praise for the Pakistan team which decimated Michael Clarke-led Australia in the just-ended Test series and singled out skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
“The way Pakistan bounced back after the losses in the T20 and ODIs was quite spectacular when many people least expected that we would win at all. However, it was simply an awesome performance that our team put up,” Wahab opined.
“The entire team deserves to be lauded but the manner in which Misbah led from the front was very pleasing. He emerged as the true leader. To equal the fastest Test century record after breaking the mark of the quickest half-century is a huge achievement by someone who was written off by some quarters.
“Misbah obviously played a big part in Pakistan’s series win against Australia, something we had not done for so many years. Younis [Khan] was also brilliant throughout the series. Three consecutive centuries is something not many have achieved and he [Younis] was quite magnificent in the past two weeks.”
Wahab reckoned the momentum gained against Australia will give Pakistan a clear edge against New Zealand.
“Compared to the Australians, New Zealand are not rated higher in international cricket. Pakistan are the favourites to win convincingly if we continue to play with the same zeal and ruthlessness. Their confidence is very high at the moment and if Pakistan win by handsome margins that would infuse more confidence in the team,” Wahab concluded.