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Haven’t Been Able To Capitalize On Winning : Rizwan

While reflecting on Pakistan’s tight one-wicket loss to West Indies in the first Test, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan threw his weight behind his teammates, saying “we were a touch unlucky.”

West Indies needed 26 more runs when their eighth wicket fell, and they still needed 17 when their ninth fell, but they managed to cross the line in a thrilling finish. “Quite a few edges didn’t go to hand and we weren’t good in the field at certain periods,” Rizwan said  “But the boys put their best effort and we’re confident of bouncing back in the next game which is a crucial game for us. Hopefully, we can perform well and level the series.”

Pakistan’s third such match in recent years

Pakistan’s third game in the recent few years in which they were denied a win when they were on the verge of one. They were poised to save the game in the first Test against New Zealand last December until losing the plot in the final portion of day five. Pakistan had England on the mat at 117/5 chasing a 270-plus score in the Manchester Test a few months prior, but they lost by three wickets.

Although the inability to finish abroad Tests has not yet become a trend, Rizwan was quick to acknowledge the need to solve the problem. “It’s true that we haven’t been able to capitalize on winning situations overseas. We’re concentrating on ironing out those flaws. The boys are working hard and gelling well. Fielding is one area where we need to perform well and I’m sure we will get that done. We’re confident of doing enough hard work to get the results.”

While discussing Pakistan’s batting performance, Rizwan preferred not to read too much into the lack of runs and remained optimistic about the batting unit’s prospects. In the first innings, the Asian side came close to passing the 200-run mark but failed to do so in the second. Rizwan isn’t amused by the criticism that Pakistan’s youthful opening combination has received.

“It’s not that the boys haven’t given acceptable performances. In a short series like this, we can’t make changes overnight and it’s also important to back our openers. Ultimately, opening in Tests isn’t an easy task at all. You also need to look at the conditions on offer. On pitches where batting is really tough, we can’t really fault the openers alone.”

With the bat, it was a lukewarm game

Rizwan’s batting performance was lukewarm at best, with beginnings in both innings but no significant contributions. He also got out to attacking shots, thus his dismissals were a little soft. In T20 cricket, the 29-year-old has been prolific this year, but he has yet to translate that form into Test cricket. Rizwan seems unconcerned when asked about it. “As I mentioned earlier, it’s alright to point out a batting failure if the opposition outplays us in batting. But on tracks, as we played in the first game, batting was very tough for everyone.

Runs still need to be scored, no doubt, but these are challenging conditions. I thought I batted well, got out to an attacking shot in the first innings but I felt that the intent was needed at that point.”  Rizwan’s meteoric rise in T20 cricket has elevated him not just as a player but also as a leader.

The Multan Sultans won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) this year under his captaincy, and Rizwan has been promoted to Pakistan’s deputy leader, albeit in Test cricket. Rizwan does not believe it will have a detrimental impact on his performance.

“I am not feeling any pressure right now. It’s crucial to be firm in leadership. I do try to give my inputs to Babar (Azam). He is very calm under pressure and never shows his emotions even if he is tense inside.” Aside from that, rumors abound about the captain and coach desiring different personnel. Rizwan, when questioned, stated that it was “important for everyone involved to be on the same page”. “I don’t think there is any division on that front in our team. These rumors are totally baseless about favoritism.”

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