Mohammad Rizwan is the glue which holds the Pakistan innings together. For the second match in a row, the Pakistan opener produced a crucial knock in the DP World Asia Cup that allowed his team to rack up a good score. His consistency gives Pakistan plenty of confidence as they move in to the Super 4 with a victory over Hong Kong at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Perhaps, Rizwan’s best asset is his unflappable temperament. Even when the bowlers are calling the shots with some tight lengths or when the wickets are falling around him, Rizwan remains unperturbed. He refuses to go into a shell, always looking for opportunities to score. And he would have scored a fifty in quick time.
Key to recent wins
The opening combination of Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam was the key to the recent Pakistan victories. The two remained unbeaten as they consigned India to a 10-wicket in the T20 World Cup last year.
In the Asia Cup, Rizwan has shown that his brilliance remains undiminished. He held one end up as Pakistan collapsed against India in Dubai on Sunday. His 43 gave Pakistan a fighting chance and allowed the tailenders to post a challenging total.
In Sharjah, Pakistan came across a slower pitch, which made strokeplay difficult against some tidy Hong Kong bowling. The early dismissal of Azam added to Pakistan’s woes. But Rizwan took time to get used to the pace of the wicket and cracked the occasional boundary whenever the Hong Kong bowlers erred in length. That allowed Fakhar Zaman to play himself in and step up the pace after the 10-over mark.
Rizwan, who remained unbeaten on 78, allowed Khushdil Shah to put the Hong Kong attack to the sword in the slog overs. And the result was a match-winning total of 193.
“These days, even 45 runs are good enough in the powerplay,” Rizwan said at the post-match press conference, referring to tepid pace of scoring early on. “Gone are the days when you could start scoring quickly in Dubai and Sharjah. Now we have to assess the conditions so that we can put up a good score,” he added.