Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Mohammad Rizwan on adapting and learning his new role, batting with Pakistan’s tail-enders

Posted on 16 August 2020 by Tusdiq Din

Pakistan Test match batsman/wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan accepted that he had to adapt his batting role in the latter stages of the second Test against England. Rizwan was eventually out for 72 after a rain and bad light continued to affect events at the Ageas Bowl where Pakistan finished on 236 all out on the morning of the fourth day.

“When I was batting with the batsmen like Babar [Azam], my role was supportive and to remain compact. When he got out and I was with the tail-enders, we had to look for runs. In this format, a good player has to do this. You get phases in Test cricket, some when you need to get runs, others when you need to remain calm. I had to get to work early on. When I was with Babar, he scored, and when the tail came in, it was my turn to score the runs,” said 28 year old Rizwan, who made his Test debut in 2016 debut against New Zealand.

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Focussed. Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot during the second Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl

The weather and bad light enforced stop start nature of the second Test has been far from ideal for both sides, but Rizwan stressed the teams will be just as frustrated with events to date.

“It’s been disturbing, as you saw the lights were on from the morning. Going off, and coming back on, yes that is disturbing for the players. You get set, then you have to go off and then back on to start over again. This situation will keep on happening in international cricket, but you saw our intent. We won the toss and decided to bat. We have to face these difficulties but we are still in a good position overall.

Pakistan’s final partnership of Rizwan and Naseem Shah added 13 runs to the overnight total, before Rizwan skied one from Stuart Broad to Zac Crawley who held. Having fought for his second highest Test score, Rizwan explained that batting with the tail is a new diversion for him, and  a role which he says he has had to learn quickly.

“I’ve batted higher up in domestic cricket, and to bat with the tail is a learning process for me. When we had to keep going off, I chatted to both Misbah [Ul-Haq] and Younis [Ahmed] and asked, ‘what I should do in this situation?’ They both, Younis gave me a lot of tips, to do this, and to come away [with a positive outcome]. It has been difficult to adapt to. For me it’s a learning process, to bat with the tail, how to build for the team.

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Mohammad Rizwan has been impressive behind the stumps again

“I’m not suggesting that I should bat higher up, I’m saying that after 80 overs, you could be batting with the tail, and that’s also when the new ball becomes available, so you need to know how to bat when facing the new ball. I had a discussion [with Misbah and Younis] how to bat with the tail, do I need to wait for three or four balls, when to leave and so on. When I’m given a role to play, I do my utmost to fulfil that role for the team, that’s what Pakistan demands.”

Rizwan’s top score of 95 came against Australia at the Gabba in last November’s first Test in Brisbane.

Pakistan’s dramatic first Test 3 wicket loss to England at Emirates Old Trafford came as a blow to the nation and the team, agreed Rizwan, and is something the tourists want to rectify as early as possible.

“The hurt of the loss to our people in Pakistan was felt even greater amongst us. It hurt so much. You saw that the match was already won. You cannot point any finger at any Pakistan player and say they didn’t try.

“All eleven players gave our best efforts, our management team too. Throughout the four days, you could see that we won every session, but [England] had the upper hand in one session in which their luck held out.

“If you look at Chris Woakes batting, edges went beyond the fielders, luck was on their side and the match slipped away from us. But we are a strong team, and we pray that we win this and the third Test match.”

At Southampton, in ongoing seeming conditions, Rizwan backed his side’s bowling attack to turn Pakistan’s fortunes around.

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Shaheen Shah Afridi of Pakistan celebrates taking the wicket of Rory Burns of England during Day Four of the 2nd Test in Southampton

Our bowlers like Shaheen Shah, [Mohammad] Abbas, Naseem Shah showed what they can do at Manchester. Luck was with England then, but we back our bowlers to get the job done here. Our [fast] bowlers are capable along with Yasir Shah. We believe we will prevail.

“They are suited to the seeming English conditions. We’re in a good position and we were inspired when the runs started to come. It was seeming throughout but hopefully we’ll have a good target for our fast bowlers to defend. They are seeming conditions in Southampton, it will be the same for them[England] To play in seeming conditions isn’t that easy.”

England will resume on day five on 7-1 after play was abandoned. Rory Burns lasted four balls before being caught at second slip by Asad Shafiq off the bowling of Shaheen Shah Afridi.