Watch live online as Pakistan cricket star Wahab Riaz makes his England county cricket debut this weekend, playing for Surrey in the NatWest T20 blast Saturday. Riaz shot to international cricket stardom in March, on the strength of his remarkable spell of fast bowling in a Cricket World Cup quarterfinal match against Australia.
Pakistan eventually lost the 50-over match to the eventual World Cup champions and were eliminated from the competition. But it was the dominant spell bowled by the 29-year-old left-armer, topping speeds of 90 miles per hour and tying Australian batters in knots that grabbed the attention of the cricketing world — especially coming from a player who had been previously considered too inconsistent as a bowler and weak as a batsman to be a key figure with the Pakistan side.
In nine overs total in the Cricket World Cup quarterfinal match, Wahab took two wickets and bowled 27 dot balls with an economy rate of just 6.0. Suddenly, the once-overlooked bowler was a candidate to take over from Misbah-al-Huq and Pakistan One Day captain.
“What I saw of him against Australia convinces me that he’s got it in him to make it big as a leader because he showed aggression, passion and emotion,” said former Pakistan Captain Ramiz Raja. “That is what is required right now to put Pakistan cricket back on track.”
But Riaz had never played club cricket outside of Pakistan — until this weekend. Wahab signed a deal with Surrey to play in the NatWest T20 Blast, but for two matches only as the Pakistan star squeezes the England stint in between Pakistan’s recently completed tour of Bangladesh, and the visit of Zimbabwe to Pakistan starting May 22 (assuming that Zimbabwe follows through on their commitment to the tour — see this Inqusitr article).
Wahab also plays for the Lahore Lions of the Haier Super 8 T20 Cup in Pakistan, and will be in that side if the Lions qualify for the May 18 final in Faisalabad.
“We all saw what Wahab is capable of with the ball during the recent World Cup,” sais Alec Stewart, Surrey director of cricket. “He is a quality left-arm quick bowler and brings his international T20 experience into the squad.”
Riaz made his debut Friday at Kia Oval, and the travel may have worn on him as he bowled a shaky four overs at 45/1 in Surrey’s 25-run loss to Welsh side Glamorgan. But cricket fans will get a chance to watch Wahab Riaz go at it one more time before his return to Pakistan.
Surrey hosts Essex live online from the Oval at 8 a.m. United States Eastern Time, 5 a.m. Pacific on Saturday, May 16. ESPN3 will stream the Surrey vs. Essex T20 Blast match, featuring the final appearance of Wahab Riaz, at this link. ESPN3 is free to subscribers of most major internet service providers, and many minor ISPs as well. For a full list, check this link, or try the instructions at this link if you do not have an account with an ISP that carries ESPN3. Viewers in the U.K. can watch the match via Sky Sports.
[Image: Phil Walter/Getty Images]