Sep 282018
 

DUBAI: With the mercury hovering around 40 degrees Celsius, Wahab Riaz was forced to head to the ice tub towards the end of a training session with the Pakistan ‘A’ team here at the ICC Academy on Thursday.It was apparent that the fast bowler, who is set to make his return to Test cricket early next month, didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks ahead of the opening Test against Australia starting on October 7 in Dubai.Fitness has been an issue for the 33-year-old pacer, who was snubbed earlier this year by Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur while selecting the squad for the tour of England and Ireland. Arthur was candid in his criticism of Wahab as he questioned the left-armer’s work ethic. At that time it seemed that Wahab’s Test career almost over.But exactly a year after he last played a Test — against Sri Lanka in Dubai — Wahab seems set to return to national duty as he has replaced a misfiring Mohammad Amir in Pakistan’s squad for the two-Test series against Australia.Asked on Thursday whether he was fit enough to play in the five-day format and that too in UAE’s sweltering heat, Wahab appeared confident.“Fitness was never an issue and will never be an issue,” Wahab told ‘The News’ in an interview on the sidelines of a Pakistan ‘A’ team training session at the ICC Academy.The two-Test series against Australia a huge opportunity for Wahab to resurrect his international career and he knows that.“Every opportunity is a big opportunity. You have to avail them. I know that I have to give it my hundred percent and am feeling confident that I can do it,” he said.Wahab has been actively playing cricket in recent times but most of the action was in the Twenty20 format in the West Indies. He did play in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match and One-Day Cup game at home after featuring in the Caribbean Premier League but was unable to fetch many wickets.“I’ve been bowling well but that was in T20 cricket. These are going to be five-day matches and there is a big difference as you can’t compare the two. But I’m positive and hope to do well if given the chance.”Wahab, who has taken 83 wickets from 26 Tests at 33.53, is hoping to gain maximum practice out of a four-day warm-up game against the visiting Australians. The game begins at the ICC Academy from Saturday (today). “It’s a good opportunity for me to get used to the conditions.”

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