'My role is to defy the pitch' - Wahab

Wahab Riaz is on his haunches after a close call Getty Images

Wahab Riaz comes from a privileged background. He studied at Aitchinson College, the prestigious, 129-year-old all-boys school located in Lahore, where the motto is "Perseverance Commands Success". He was an enthusiastic swimmer and hockey player at school, and has grown into one of the world's fastest bowlers, defying many barren pitches with his fury and adding a layer of raw menace to Pakistan's bowling attack.

His numbers - he averaged 34.66 before the Sharjah Test - don't quite do justice to his ability, and ever so often - such as during the Trent Bridge ODI in August, when he conceded 110 in his 10 overs - he can have a horror day. But while all that inconsistency might prevent him from being a great bowler, he is undoubtedly a bowler of great spells.

On day three in Sharjah, he sparked another Test match to life just when it was drifting sleepily along, and just when the contest was slipping from Pakistan's grasp. When he began his second spell of the day, West Indies were 311 for 7, leading by 30, and Kraigg Brathwaite and Devendra Bishoo had added 48 for the eighth wicket. Brathwaite was batting on 129.

Brathwaite and the lower order could have extended the lead into truly uncomfortable territory for Pakistan, but that didn't happen. Wahab pinged Bishoo on the helmet with a bouncer before getting him caught behind in the fourth over of his spell. Then, in the space of 17 more reverse-swinging balls, he dismissed Alzarri Joseph and Shannon Gabriel as well, leaving Brathwaite stranded on 142 and limiting West Indies' lead to 56.

Wahab finished with figures of 5 for 88. It was only the second time he had taken a Test-match five-for.

"It's a good batting track, and obviously ball wasn't doing that much so we had to make plans for specific batsmen, but it didn't work," Wahab said at the end of the day. "So we had to return to basics, and thankfully I finally got the reward.

"Yes, the five-wicket haul came after a long gap, but if you look, my debut match was in England and since then I have played major chunk of cricket in Asia. Pitches here aren't sporting for the bowlers and you have do something unusual to take wickets, so I am happy with my progress and satisfied for fulfilling the team's plan."

Wahab was returning to Pakistan's attack after the team management rested him and Mohammad Amir for the second Test in Abu Dhabi in a bid to manage their workloads. Wahab said he had no issue going flat-out in the heat of the UAE, since it was his job to try and and coax life out of the slowest pitches.

"As far as workload is concerned, I know it's really hard and I might be putting extra strain on my body," he said. "But see, this is why I am representing Pakistan, as I am meant to give it all I have. I have a role to defy the pitch when other bowlers are not able to get something out of it. I am working hard even though it takes a lot out of me, but I am fit enough for this and I am happy playing such a role."

Wahab said he was developing a good chemistry with Amir, his partner in left-arm pace.

"Obviously there is self-belief, and the trust has started to build up and we both communicate with each other regularly," Wahab said. "Sometimes we as bowlers get frustrated and the other bowler comes to you and gives better advice. So we are sharing thoughts and applying each other's tactical advice against batsmen, and it's a good thing as a bowling unit."

In the last hour of the day, Pakistan's batting wobbled; they lost three wickets in the space of 17 balls to Jason Holder before their captain Misbah-ul-Haq fell playing an aggressive shot against the offspinner Roston Chase. It left them four down while still trailing by eight runs, before Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed saw them through to stumps with an unbroken stand of 39.

Wahab said such things were part of cricket and it wouldn't be fair to blame the batsmen.

"It's cricket and it happens sometimes," he said. "We are all working hard to win this Test match. I think somehow as batsmen and bowlers we lost our concentration for a while, maybe thinking that we will take back control and manage the situation. But we didn't execute well and we didn't capitalise, and lost our way. So I admit we made mistakes and it happens in cricket."