Riaz working on new-ball skills
Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan fast bowler, has said he needs to work on mastering the ability to bowl with the new ball. He rued being only a fringe player in the England series but said he was working hard win to back his place.
Pakistan rely heavily on spinners in all formats, with only Umar Gul being the established fast bowler. Two young quick bowlers, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Talha, have been troubled by injury while Aizaz Cheema has done well enough to keep his place in the XI over Riaz.
One of Riaz's strengths is his ability to obtain reverse-swing but with the use of new balls from each end in one-dayers, his effectiveness has been reduced. He is currently working with former fast-bowler Sarfraz Nawaz at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. "I am working hard to get more control when bowling with the new ball," Riaz said. "Unfortunately I didn't get enough chances to bowl against England, but I am confident that I will be an improved bowler in the Asia Cup."
Riaz, 26, had a memorable Test debut, taking a five-for against England in August 2010, and made a further impact in limited-overs cricket by collecting his maiden ODI five-for in the World Cup semi-final against India. He was included in the Pakistan squad against England in UAE but played only one ODI in which he was taken for 47 runs in seven wicket-less overs.
He hasn't had too much to smile about since his career-best performance against India in Mohali, but was looking to regain his lost form. "Repeating that India performance is the best way to build my reputation," Riaz said. "It's all about confidence as I hardly got an opportunity to bowl with the new ball."
Pakistan didn't organise a formal training camp before the Asia Cup but called up all their top fast bowlers to train ahead of the four-nation tournament. "He [Sarfraz] is helping me a lot in tackling different situations, mainly [teaching me] how to execute with the new ball," Riaz said. "I am bowling long spells with the new ball and I am sure whenever I have the ball in my hand, I won't disappoint the captain."
Sarfraz, now a NCA fast-bowling consultant who is filling in for outgoing coach Aaqib Javed, was confident that his charges will click in the Asia Cup. "I did enough to tune them, now it's up to them how they perform," Sarfraz said. "Wahab's got heart as a fast bowler but was off rhythm due to a minor technical flaw that we have sorted out now."
Pakistan will play their first match against Bangladesh on Sunday and take on Sri Lanka on March 15, before going head-to-head with arch-rivals India on March 18.
"What a captain always wants is an effective bowling attack, which gets the wickets for the team," Sarfraz said. "Misbah [-ul-Haq] said that the pacers were not utilising the new balls effectively but I have tried my level best to sort that out. What I know is that we have the best bowlers - they may be inconsistent, but are really dangerous in all conditions."
Edited by Siddarth Ravindran
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent