Pakistan pacer Wahab Riaz says his team is not reading too much into the parallels being drawn with the victorious 1992 World Cup squad despite undergoing a similar resurgent campaign in the 2019 edition.
Imran Khan led Pakistan to their first and only World Cup victory 27 years ago and the exact pattern of wins, losses and washouts is being followed in this summer’s showpiece.
But Wahab, who took 2/29 and was unbeaten on 15 in his side’s three-wicket victory over Afghanistan here on Saturday, says the relentless mentality of his team is behind its remarkable resurgence.
“We don’t really talk about 1992 that much. The first thing is in this team, everybody has the same purpose. That’s where we started off and where we remain,” he said. “The turnaround is due to the motivation and the ambition of the team to win this World Cup. Everybody wants that. Obviously, this will be the last World Cup for Shoaib Malik and this is the time we are needed the most.”
Pakistan looked down and out after defeat to old rivals India but can now reflect on three successive victories over New Zealand, South Africa and plucky Afghanistan in a thriller at Headingley.
Wahab, Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Shah Afridi are the most prolific pace trio at the World Cup so far, taking seven wickets against Afghanistan to add to their enviable haul.
The pacer, 34, was left out of Pakistan’s preliminary squad for the tournament but, like his team, he has bounced back and is relishing forming part of a pace unit firing on all cylinders.
“It’s very pleasing the way we are bowling as a team, particularly the way Shaheen has improved,” he said. “Shaheen was under pressure after his first game against Australia but he has come back and taken some important wickets for us.
“Amir we already know is one of the best bowlers in the world who swings the ball both ways. That puts pressure on the batsmen to play him. It’s a good combination right now, we are trying to take wickets and that is putting the team in a great position.”