Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has no qualms about fielding Wahab Riaz in the remaining one-day internationals against England despite the seamer being caught up in the spot-fixing row engulfing the team. “He’s in the (squad of) 15. All 15 are available,” fast bowling great Waqar told reporters.
The 25-year-old Riaz is to be interviewed by police who have already questioned team-mates Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif over claims that they took money to deliberately bowl no-balls in last month’s fourth Test at Lord’s. Riaz was making only his second Test appearance in that match, where he bowled two wides and eight no-balls.
Butt, Aamer, and Asif have all been suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and returned home on Friday. Even before the global governing body, sparked into action by a report in Britain’s News of the World Sunday tabloid, imposed the suspensions, England had made it clear they would be unhappy to play against the trio in this month’s one-day series.
Riaz missed the opening contest, a 24-run win for England at the Riverside here on Friday, but Pakistan insisted his omission was purely tactical and Waqar, speaking after that defeat, insisted: “I’m told by the management that he is available, and that’s where my line comes.”
Meanwhile England captain Andrew Strauss was glad both sides had played their part in the first of a five-match series. England thrashed Pakistan in both last week’s Twenty20 internationals in Cardiff, with Waqar’s men dismissed for a record low of 89 in the second encounter in the Welsh capital.
It looked as if a schedule of six Tests in seven weeks, two against Australia, allied to all the controversy, were conspiring to create a climate that would see Pakistan’s tour end in both on and off-field misery.
But although England won the first one-dayer, after piling up 274 for six in a rain-reduced 41 overs, the fact Pakistan replied with a spirited 250 for nine suggested they could look forward to Sunday’s second one-day international in Leeds with some optimism.
“There is a bigger responsibility for us as cricketers at this stage,” said Strauss, in a thinly veiled reference to the spot-fixing row after 87 from wicket-keeper batsman Steven Davies, in only his second match at this level, and Jonathan Trott’s 69 provided the platform for England’s victory.
“No-one likes to see the game battered and bruised, and we need to heal any wounds that have been caused as quickly as possible. “There’s no doubt it has got to have been a tough time for them (Pakistan) over the past two weeks.
“For them to continue coming out and putting in spirited performances is important for them, and the game of cricket.” The opening batsman added: “I said before the game that as cricketers we feel a real responsibility at the moment to get cricket in the headlines for the right reasons.
“I think both sides achieved that…Cricket was the winner today (Friday).”
Waqar was heartened by the way Pakistan had upped their game from the Twenty20s.
“It was a definite improvement from the Twenty20, and we looked a much better unit,” he said.