Wahab Riaz will hope that he does not leak too many runs in upcoming matches © AFP
Wahab Riaz will hope that he does not leak too many runs in upcoming matches © AFP

Much has been said about Pakistan’s pace attack since their performance against India in the Asia Cup T20 2016. Mohammad Aamer was brilliant in his spell and gave Pakistan, a glimmer of hope that they could possibly defend a paltry score of 83. A lot of experts and ex-cricketers, including Azhar Mahmood — Pakistan’s interim bowling coach—  have termed Pakistan’s pace attack as one best in the world. It is an opinion that even Shoaib Malik shares. “We have one of the best bowling sides in the world and there is no doubt about that. We all know that Mohammad Aamer is a proven match-winner and then you add a seven-footer in Mohammad Irfan who has an advantage of height, the pace battery of the side looks really exciting. Not to forget we have Wahab Riaz as well,” Mahmood said in an interview to bcci.tv.  Full Cricket Updates: India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup T20 2016, Match 4 at Dhaka

In the recent past however, Riaz has not been at his best for Pakistan. Even in the match against India, when others went for just about four an over, Riaz gave away as many as 31 runs in 3.3 overs at 8.85. India pounced on Riaz at every opportunity and made life a touch easy for the Indian batsmen. His spell to Shane Watson in the ICC World Cup 2015 was a treat to watch but he has not been at his best since and we have not seen a spell even close to that. READ: Virat Kohli’s genius trumps Mohammad Aamer’s brilliance as India beat Pakistan by 5 wickets in Asia Cup T20 2016

In Pakistan’s recent tour of New Zealand, barring the 1st T20 International (T20I), their bowlers struggled in the rest of the tour, which consisted of two other T20Is and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs). In one of the first ODI, despite having New Zealand on the mat at 99 for 6, they managed to reach a match-winning score of 280. Aamer struggled in the T20I series but as the tour progressed he became better and was Pakistan’s star bowler in the ODI series that followed.

Mohammad Irfan was good in the ODI series, after missing out on the T20I series. But Riaz seems to be the weakest link among the pacers. He was dreadful against New Zealand. On tracks that are said to be pacer-friendly, he was whacked for runs with ease. A good performance in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2016 perhaps, helped his cause and was eventually picked for the Asia Cup and ICC World T20 2016. READ: Pakistan have best pace bowling attack in the world, says Azhar Mahmood

With three left-arm seamers in the playing XI, Pakistan’s pace attack has become a touch one dimensional. Granted that the three bowlers bring in some unique aspect of theirs into play in every match, it will not be a bad idea to play Anwar Ali in one of the games, keeping in mind the ICC World T20 that follows. Riaz has a good strike rate in limited-overs cricket and as we have seen in the past, picking wickets at regular intervals is one of the most effective ways to cut the run-flow. READ: Pakistan have best bowling attack, says Shoaib Malik

Riaz, may yet have a role to play in determining the future of Pakistan in the Asia Cup and the World T20. But he has to ensure that he does not leak runs like he has in the recent past, even if he fails to pick up wickets.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)