The late summer of 2010 must’ve been a proud moment for Wahab Riaz as he was given an international cap for the first time. He delivered – albeit in favourable conditions – as he took 5/63 against England in their first innings, which he may never forget. He was seen as “aggressive” and “fiery” by fans at first sight.

Since that day onwards Wahab had been a regular across all formats, and was performing consistently too. However, at times was going for far too many runs, though getting the odd breakthrough. He was persisted with and then came the ODI World Cup, Wahab was again named in Pakistan’s squad, and he proved why, with one rather memorable piece of bowling.

Cast your memories back to the eve of the India vs Pakistan semi-final at Mohali. Rumour’s were flying round that Wahab Riaz was going to be preferred over Shoaib Akhtar – who is considered a must in every game against India – debates were fuming about that all important decision, Shoaib or Riaz? Nearly a year later the same debate starts, this time with a different bowler – Wahab Riaz or Aizaz Cheema?

March the 30th 2011 was no doubt a gloomy day for Pakistan fans but one man was more than happy with himself. Wahab Riaz was handed the ball when Pakistan’s premium fast bowler Umar Gul was getting hit all around the park for fun. He was handed the ball and delivered by getting the final breakthrough of Sehwag. That day was a sad day but not all sad, the Shoaib Akhtar-esque celebration, the excitement, the anguish, the fire and last but not least; the near perfect Yorker bought a slight smile to every Pakistan fan’s face, and till this day it still does.

However, that is not the problem, the problem lies within what happened after that. So what did happen?

After the World Cup Pakistan were to tour West Indies, playing a T20, 5 ODI’s and 2 Tests. Riaz was named in the squads, and why would he not after that mouth-watering performance versus archrivals, India. He was an automatic selection in most games during the tour. However, that makes one ponder about what transpired during the aftermath of that very tour.

Wahab Riaz after May 2011 has played a mere 2 games, till date. Why is that? Many speculate it is due to the nature of his “erratic” bowling. Also, to Wahab’s distress, he was one of the names mentioned during the spot-fixing trail, in which Pakistan’s tainted trio were challenged. Was it because of the afore mentioned reasons? One can only cogitate about.

The two games Wahab Riaz was lucky enough to feature in were; an ODI game during Pakistan vs England in the UAE [2012]; and the other being another ODI, Pakistan vs India [2012]. For nearly a year he had not featured in a single international fixture, rather was kept out of the team forcefully. When he was given another chance he only managed to play one game during the whole tour, in which – rather unsurprisingly – he again failed to perform. However, despite his lack in match practice he was selected to play against arch rivals India in an Asia Cup encounter, because of his previous astounding performances against the opposition. Again, he failed to perform up to standard although he did manage to get two wickets.

As a result of his rather shambolic performances – in the very few games he has played recently – he was again sidelined during the Pakistan versus Bangladesh Asia Cup final. In place of Wahab Riaz, Aizaz Cheema was preferred. Which proved quite a masterstroke, as Cheema was instrumental during the Asia Cup victory.

This is the curious case of Wahab Riaz. From a fantastic debut performance and some great performances in between he disappeared into thin air and managed to find others preferred ahead of him. We can only ponder upon why.