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World Cup Vignette

Wahab (nearly) dismantles Watson

An epic tale of bowler v batsman

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
It was a day Shane Watson learned a lesson he'll never forget: to back off from Wahab Riaz.
On coming in to bat in the World Cup quarter-final in Adelaide, Wahab was taunted by Watson. He later showed he could hold a grudge, and deliver merciless comeuppance.
With Australia three down for 59 chasing 214, Wahab's engines roared to full throttle as Watson faced up at the other end. If ever there was a demonstration of the number of ways to unconvincingly leave a cricket ball, this from Watson was it. He ducked, swerved and danced as Wahab peppered him with the short stuff. The crowd were perhaps less concerned about Watson's wicket as his well-being, as Wahab redlined his game, speeds into the 150s. He ran in close to Watson, clapped in his face, embarrassed him every which way he could. For once, an Australian at home had nothing to say.
When, after four overs of held breaths and frayed nerves, Watson finally top-edged a bouncer to fine leg at the Cathedral End, the moment looked right out of a Hollywood sports film. In what seemed like slow motion, an Australian crowd more accustomed to hurling abuse at visiting fielders gaped upwards wordlessly, while Wahab waited for the ultimate gratification. Rahat Ali spilled a simple catch, driving a dagger through the balloon of pressure Pakistan had built.
Watson would hit the winning runs an hour later and put Australia in the semi-final. But those wouldn't be the memories from this match. Seared into every mind will be the sight of an Australian forensically humiliated in his own backyard, while an intoxicated global audience couldn't get enough of it.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000