Wahab Riaz impresses everyone on debut
London: Even when seemingly down and out with little hope in sight, Pakistan have always managed to throw up potential world beaters.
On Wednesday it was the turn of Wahab Riaz, a strong left arm fast bowler with no previous Test experience who came into the team in place of the injured Umar Gul.
Riaz, generating steepling bounce on a good Oval pitch, scythed through England`s top order to take five for 63 on the opening day of the third Test.
England, in disarray at 94 for seven, recovered to tally 233 but it was still Pakistan`s day as they reached 48 for one at the close.
Pakistan, who have not played an international at home since the armed attack on Sri Lanka`s team bus in Lahore in March last year, lost captain Shahid Afridi after being beaten by Australia at Lord`s this season.
Afridi, persuaded out of Test retirement, promptly quit again to be replaced by Salman Butt.
Butt had a dream start with victory over Australia in the second Test but it has been all downhill since with two heavy defeats by England marked by dismal batting and even worse fielding.
On Wednesday Pakistan finally held their catches and Riaz profited with the wickets of Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad.
"It`s all about the dreams and it`s a dream came true," Riaz told a news conference. "England is a good team but it was our day.
"I have played at different levels so the confidence level was high. In domestic cricket I have been bowling 22, 25 overs in a day."
Pakistan Test selections always inspire furious debate on cricket websites and Riaz`s selection ahead of Tanvir Ahmed, who took 85 first class wickets in the last domestic season, attracted particular displeasure.
However Riaz, 25, as well as playing a club season in England, has performed impressively on tough second team tours of Australia and Sri Lanka.
"It was a confidence booster ... playing against Australia in Australia and in difficult conditions in Sri Lanka," he said. "I was the highest wicket taker in both series."
Unsurprisingly Riaz`s hero is compatriot Wasim Akram, by common accord the finest left-arm fast bowler to play the game.
On Wednesday`s evidence Riaz has pace and dangerous bounce albeit without Akram`s wizardry through the air.
Matt Prior, England`s top scorer with 84 not out, said Riaz had brought an element of surprise to Pakistan`s attack.
"We hadn`t seen a huge amount of him and that played into his hands a little bit," he said. "Having seen his action and having seen him bowl and how he tries to get people out we will have better plans for the second innings."