Adelaide: Shane Watson admitted he was fortunate to escape Wahab Riaz's classic spell of intimidatory, eyeball-to-eyeball fast bowling in Friday's World Cup quarter-final between Australia and Pakistan.
Watson ended the game on an unbeaten 64 off 66 balls but he was dropped on four by Rahat Ali at fine leg off a 145kmh Riaz bouncer as the veteran Australian all-rounder was under physical siege. Riaz charged in, peppering the batsman with a series of short-pitched deliveries and sarcastically applauding and even blowing the 33-year-old a kiss at one stage.
Pakistani bowler Wahab Riaz bowls as Australian batsman Shane Watson looks on during the 2015 Cricket World Cup quarter-final match between Australia and Pakistan in Adelaide on March 20, 2015. Pic/AFP
"Wahab gave it everything, he was right on the money and there were some really nasty balls in there," said Watson, after his team's six-wicket win at the Adelaide Oval which set up a semi-final clash against defending champions India. "I was lucky to get through that spell." Riaz finished with two for 54 but he should have had more wickets, with Sohail Khan displaying similar butter-fingers to Rahat when he dropped Glenn Maxwell late in the innings.
"Rahat Ali's dropped catch was a crucial moment. We would have had Watson and a wicket to put more pressure on Australia," Riaz told Sky Sports. "We watched how the Australia guys play and had a chat before the game and put plans in place. I knew Watson was not so good with short balls so I knew I had to attack. The plans were successful at times but unfortunately we could not win the game."
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq hailed the fiery Riaz. "He bowled his heart out and was a different kind of bowler throughout this tournament. I have never seen a bowler bowling like that and if that catch had been taken who knows what could have happened?," said Misbah.