LONDON - Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood has revealed that veteran pacer Wahab Riaz has an important space in team’s plans for future series.

Riaz, who was the leading wicket-taker in Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) third edition, was ignored for the tour of Ireland and England, leading to the selection committee receiving criticism. But Mahmood believes Riaz, who has represented Pakistan in 26 Tests where he claimed 83 wickets at an average of 33.53, still has international cricket left in him.

“I know a lot of people are talking about why we left Wahab out of the squad for the series, but there is a reason,” said Mahmood in an interview with Ramiz Raja. “We believe he will not be that useful for the team in early English summer as more than pace, we need bowlers who can seam and swing the ball. But that does not mean he is not in my [or team’s] plans. I know we will need him in our next home series against Australia and New Zealand in the UAE, where a pacer who bowls at 150 and can reverse swing is of immense importance.”

Talking about the bowling unit which was selected for the tour of Ireland and England, Mahmood said he trust his charges completely.

“I am confident that we have the kind of bowling attack which can take 20 wickets in every match,” he said. “The likes of Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali and Hasan Ali have already proved what they are capable of. Also, I think Mohammad Abbas will do really well because of his recent county stint where he claimed 23 wickets in five matches. Yasir Shah’s absence will be felt, but it’s a great opportunity for someone like Shadab Khan to show his magic in the whites as well.”

When asked to comment on Amir, who incurred a knee injury during the one-off Test against Ireland, Mahmood said the left-armer was struggling with fatigue.

“We definitely want him in Tests and I’ve also told him that he should focus on the five-day format as [T20] leagues will come later as well,” he said. “I believe he is actually struggling with fatigue as he came back after a break of five years and a lot has changed since then. I know that when you are tired, your wrist movement is not the same. Also, I believe taking part in shorter formats has affected his performance in the Test format, where he is not being able to bowl fuller length to get the wickets.”

Mahmood, who represented Pakistan in 21 Test and 143 ODIs where he scored 2,421 runs and claimed 162 wickets collectively, further went on to explain why team’s bowling department hasn’t done well in the longest format of the game in the recent past.

“People believe our players are suffering because of shorter format, but I beg to differ,” said Mahmood. “I believe they are suffering because of the pitches in the domestic cricket which are helpful for fast bowlers. The problem with such tracks is that the team is bowled out inside 50-60 overs, which means bowlers do not get the chance to come back and bowl their second spell. For that reason, it becomes difficult for them to bowl 25 overs at the international level.”