x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Wasim Akram puzzled by Pakistan omission of pace duo

The former Pakistan great says selectors should not be resting Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul for their tour of Zimbabwe

KARACHI // Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan great, is surprised by the decision to exclude pacemen Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul for the forthcoming Zimbabwe tour, saying it would hamper their progress.

Riaz and Gul are rested while Tanveer Ahmed is dropped for the tour which includes one Test, three one-day internationals (ODI) and two Twenty20 matches, starting later this month.

The 15-man tour party includes four inexperienced quicks in Sohail Tanveer, Sohail Khan, Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan — a strategy Wasim fears may backfire on Pakistan.

"I don't mind taking Zimbabwe lightly and giving chances to youngsters but it is surprising that you rest Riaz who has just started his career a year ago and is progressing. He doesn't need rest," Wasim said.

Wasim was also surprised by the selectors not including Gul and said the bolwer would have found his lost form in Zimbabwe.

"I have seen that out-of-form paceman get back to form by playing easier teams, but here we have rested the two main pacemen and they were allowed to play county cricket, instead of doing the national duty," said Wasim.

Riaz represented Kent while Gul played for Sussex in the England's Twenty20 championships. Wasim described Riaz as Pakistan's future.

"The idea to groom a young paceman is to give him more and more opportunities and not to rest him," said Wasim, who took 414 Test and 502 ODI wickets during his illustrious career.

"Riaz needs opportunities and it's not wise for him to rest at this stage."

Wasim said teams like India and Australia who played continuously could rest key players.

"If we see India giving rest to their key players, it's understandable because they play too much cricket throughout the year but Pakistan rarely plays Tests and here we are without our rising paceman," said Wasim.

The 26-year-old Riaz, a left-armer like Wasim, has so far played seven Tests — including one against South Africa in Dubai — since making his debut on last year's tour of England. He has also played 22 ODIs.

Wasim praised Cheema's selection.

"Cheema has been leading wicket-taker in Pakistan's domestic season, so he deserved a chance but there should be more consistency in selection," said Wasim.