Five years after Wahab Riaz bowled an unforgettable spell to Shane Watson during the 2015 World Cup, the left-arm pacer revealed how a sledge from the Australia allrounder got him all fired-up. Wahab’s menacing spell to Watson is still considered one of the best showdowns with the former Pakistan left-armer troubling the former Australia allrounder with a barrage of bouncer.
“When he came into bat, I settled the score with him. When I was batting Watson just came up to me and said ‘are you holding a bat?’ and that was going through my mind,” Wahab told cricket.com.au. “I let him know that even he had a bat, but he couldn’t touch the ball. I know that… he’s not good on the short ball, so it was a plan that we discussed in the team meeting.”
It was the third quarter-final of the World Cup and chasing Pakistan’s target of 214, Australia had slipped to 59/3 with Watson and Steve Smith in the middle. In fact, Wahab almost had his perfect revenge, when Watson top edged a pull, for to the fast bowler’s dismay, Rahat Ali at square leg, put down the catch.
“That was one of the best spells I have ever bowled,” Wahab would later reflect. “After he (Watson) had won the game for Australia, we hugged and congratulated each other. I said to him at that point of time ‘you took the game away from us.'”
“There is no doubt that the way he played most of the time he was under pressure but he held his nerve and took the Australian team to the semi-final. He is one of the players I really admire and like.”
While Smith said he was loving every bit of the battle, Michael Clarke compared Wahab’s spell to the numerous ones Mitchell Johnson bowled during the 2013 Ashes, and James Faulkner thought it was an unbelievable spell. Watson and Smith scored unbeaten half-centuries to take Australia home and into the semi-finals.
“A bit of luck went my way to get through that spell,” Watson had earlier revealed. “He was bowling good pace, but also the (left-arm) angle… it was hard to be able to try and get my head out of the way. It kept following me. We knew he was a dangerman, he had his tail up and he bowled some nasty balls on the money a lot of them.”