Mohammad Rizwan
Mohammad Rizwan Image Credit: AFP

Sharjah: Pakistan’s wicketkeeper — batsman Mohammad Rizwan has utilised the chance he got to display his batting talent and notch his maiden century in international cricket in the second match of the five-match ODI series against Australia at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

When Gulf News asked how does he rate this century and whether this knock will boost his confidence, Rizwan, who has always struggled to find his place in the Pakistan team owing to the presence of skipper Sarfraz Ahmad as the team’s main wicketkeeper, said: “As a player whenever you perform you feel happy even if it is at the club level. A century is a century, be it at the club level or international stage. I am happy for this opportunity because, as you all know, I have often come out to bat sometimes six down or even below. Today I have got the opportunity and I have fully utilised it and I hope it will help me.”

Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malek too praised Rizwan’s knock that gave Pakistan a respectable total though not good enough to put Australians under pressure. “Rizwan has scored runs in that position, and it’s a great sign that someone is knocking on the door for the World Cup team. Since we have rested a lot of our players, we are trying other players and these things (defeats) happen in international cricket, especially when you are playing a big team.”

Malek feels that his team’s inability to take early wickets is the reason behind the defeat. “To be honest, I think early strikes in our bowling is what we are lacking. Overall, there are positives as we fought until the last ball. We are testing our bench strength. There are youngsters who we are giving chances to perform.”

Malek then hailed Finch’s knock. “I must congratulate Finch on back to back hundreds. If an opener scores 150 runs plus, it’s tough to win that game. Next game, there will be more youngsters in the playing XI. It’s not about winning the series, it’s about testing our bench strength,” he said.

Rizwan feels that Finch could not have scored so easily had his team put a few more runs on board. “It was a good batting track and we were 20 to 25 runs short. Finch is a good player but if we had scored 300 runs then there would have been pressure on Finch. In this case they needed to score only around five runs an over and they played under no pressure,” said Rizwan.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board has announced that Faheem Ashraf will return to Pakistan as part of their policy of giving sufficient rest to their frontline players ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, It has been decided no replacement will be sought for Faheem as the team already includes five fast bowlers in Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Hasnain and Usman Shinwari.