SHARJAH: Pakistan’s policy of judging their bench-strength yielded good result on Sunday when wicket-keeper/batsman Mohammad Rizwan came up with a maiden century to prove there is enough talent in the backup players.
Rizwan, who had been often criticised for lack of productivity with the bat, scored 115 off 126 balls with 11 boundaries to propel Pakistan to 284-7 in 50 overs in Sharjah, but that once again proved an easy target for Australia who rode on Aaron Finch’s highest ODI score of 153 not out to win in the 48th over.
That gave Australia a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Rizwan admitted he had sensed an opportunity and took it with both hands. He added 53 for the third-wicket with Haris Sohail (34) and another 127 with stand-in skipper Shoaib Malik, who made a 61-ball 60.
Rizwan said he mostly played as batsman in the past in presence of regular Pakistan captain and wicket-keeper/batsman Sarfraz Ahmed.
“I think I played 21 out of 25 matches as a fielder or batsman. It was a matter of opportunity, so it came and I performed,” said Rizwan after the match on Sunday night.”Moreover, this was a most-satisfying knock because the critics were always picking up on me.”
Rizwan admitted Pakistan, who scored 280 in the first game at the same venue last Friday, were again short by some margin.
“I think we were at least 15-20 runs short. Our team is doing their best effort, and it took Australia 48 overs to chase, so in the next match we will have to score more than 300, if we bat first, to put them [Australia] under pressure,” said Rizwan of the third ODI in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Rizwan said senior players have the temperament and youngsters need to learn from them. “If you look at the senior players, they have that temperament [like Aaron Finch]. We are using the bench-strength players, because if they do then they will find suitable players for the World Cup. So, it’s a test for the players. The side comprises relatively inexperienced international players but an opportunity to learn and come good.”
Rizwan said it was a matter of pride to score a century.
“As a batsman, you always feel happy whenever you score a hundred. I usually come late in the order, but in this case I was a given opportunity to bat up the order and I scored a hundred.
“I am very happy. But, if you score 115 and the team does not win, then it doesn’t look nice.”
The last two matches will be in Dubai on Friday and Sunday.
Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2019