When Mohammad Rizwan first came into the side, he was the second choice wicket-keeper batsman. Sarfraz Ahmed was the first choice for the national side. However, Rizwan did show a great fielding performance, was very acrobatic as we have seen in the 2015 tour of Sri Lanka. He played as a specialist batsman. Though he was preferred over Sarfraz in T20Is that tour, Rizwan was never regular in the side.
These days, especially in the ongoing tour to England, there is a lot of praise for the wicket-keeper batsman. Shown improvements in both batting and keeping.
Rizwan made his debut against Bangladesh in 2015, and quickly impressed everyone with his maiden half-century, a 67 from 58 balls. However, it was soon followed by 13 and 4 in the series where Pakistan was whitewashed by the host 3-0.
He made his T20I debut in that tour as well, but his T20I career isn’t very successful up till now, averaging under 17 and strike-rate under 100.
But he did play some handy innings in One Day Internationals. He scored two more half-centuries in which one of them helped Pakistan score a competitive total against Zimbabwe. In that match, Pakistan were 128-5 before he and Imad Wasim shared a partnership that led Pakistan to 259-6 and eventually winning the match.
He was in and out from ODIs, playing till 2017 before he was left out. His ODI record read 460 runs at under 29 in 25 matches at that time. He even made his Test debut against New Zealand, but that was it for him and he never played another Test match again.
Comeback in 2019
Rizwan made his international comeback after two years in 2019, when Sarfraz was given a four-match ban for his racial statement to Andile Phelukwayo. He didn’t do well in the South Africa ODI and T20I series.
But when Pakistan announced a second-string team to face Australia following the South Africa tour, Rizwan recorded his first two centuries. However, the series went in Australia’s favor 5-0. Since then, he is yet to represent Pakistan in ODIs.
When Sarfraz was dropped from the national side, Rizwan became the first-choice wicket-keeper. He marked his Test comeback against Australia. There, he recorded his first Test fifty, a fighting 95. That innings was recorded as the highest individual score by Pakistani wicket-keeper. He was the third-highest run-scorer for Pakistan.
Then in the recently concluded England series, Rizwan became the first Pakistan wicket-keeper to score two fifties on the same tour. In the second Test match, Rizwan was awarded Man of the Match award for his knock of 72 where the match was drawn. He became the first overseas wicket-keeper to get Man of the Match award in tests played in England since Adam Gilchrist in 2001 and only the 4th in the history after Jeff Dujon (1988), Ian Healy (1997) and Adam Gilchrist (2001)
Mazhar Arshad brought up stats of catching by wicket-keepers since 2019. He took 95% of catches as he dropped only once, which is easily the best among the current wicket-keepers. The stat proves Rizwan’s competition now is not only with Sarfraz but against keepers worldwide.
Rizwan was praised by former player like Michael Atherton and Michael Holding. Atherton said that he is the ‘keeper of the summer in terms of glove-work.’
“Out of all the foreign wicket-keepers that have come to England, I think he’s been the best for a long long time – he was outstanding” – Nasser Hussain said on Mohammad Rizwan
Rizwan was awarded the player of the series by England’s coach Chris Silverwood. As a result, he became the first Pakistan wicket-keeper to be awarded the Player of the series.
End of Sarfraz Ahmed?
There is a lot of talk about Sarfraz and that his career may come to an end. Though Rizwan who’s T20I national career isn’t pleasing, Sarfraz may stick around for the shortest format. You can read more here whether Rizwan’s performance is a threat to Sarfaraz’s test career.
However, Rizwan doesn’t have any personal issues with the former captain of Pakistan. Instead, he has a lot of praises for Sarfraz.
“I’m a big fan of Saifi bhai from the time I started playing in domestic competitions and learned a lot from watching him how he played. I never felt bad about being the understudy to Saifi bhai who had not only cemented his place in the team but became captain as well.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from his performances as the wicket-keeper/batsman and always wanted to emulate him. The few opportunities that came my way allowed me to work in tandem with Saifi bhai during the tours, and there were occasions when both of us played together in the same XI in One-day Internationals.
“Therefore, I never got unduly worried as to when the next chance would come to play at the international level. The healthy competition is something I love to be part of because then you know that you have to work on that extra part to be the first-choice [wicket-keeper]. And I’m sure Saifi bhai feels the same too,” Rizwan added.
Whatever it is, Rizwan has shown promise for at least the next two years. And we expect him to do much more.