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Hyderabad felt like Rawalpindi, says Rizwan

Source: PTI
October 11, 2023 12:45 IST
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I would pray for Hyderabad curator, playing here felt like playing in Rawalpindi: Mohammed Rizwan

Mohammad Rizwan

IMAGES: Mohammed Rizwan celebrates after scoring an unbeaten 131, his highest ODI score, and guiding Pakistan to a record run-chase in the World Cup match against Sri Lanka, in Hyderabad, on Tuesday. Photograph: ICC/X

Mohammed Rizwan will fondly remember the local curator in his prayers for producing a batting beauty that helped him smash a ton and guide his team to a comfortable six-wicket win against Sri Lanka in a record-breaking chase in the World Cup.

The deeply religious keeper-batter scored an unbeaten 131 off 121 balls as Pakistan's 345 for 4 is the highest successful run-chase in the history of World Cup. "When we got to the ground for the first time, he (curator) said, 'Rizwan, you must hit two 100s on this ground'. I met him today as well. We can pray for him and you should pray for him too," Rizwan said at the post-match press conference as Pakistan team ended its two-week Hyderabad leg on a high with two wins in two games.


In fact, the kind of affection and reception Pakistan received in Nizam's own land made Rizwan feel like as if he was playing in Rawalpindi.

"I felt like I was playing a match in Pindi. The way the crowd gave love today (Tuesday), and not just me, the whole Pakistan team got love. In fact, they supported Sri Lanka too. I am happy that the crowd in Hyderabad has supported cricket, both Sri Lanka and us. I had a lot of fun with them."

Hospitality of Hyderabad was unparalleled.

"Hospitality, you all must have seen it. Someone must have taken pictures when we came to the airport. I said earlier that I felt like I was playing in front of crowd of Rawalpindi. Our ground in Lahore is big, a lot of people come there but today it seems that Pakistan's match is taking place in Rawalpindi," Rizwan said while speaking to the media on Tuesday.

'I knew 340-350 was chaseable'

Mohammad Rizwan

IMAGES: Abdullah Shafique and Mohammed Rizwan guide Pakistan to the most successful chase in the history of the ICC World Cup. Photograph: ICC/X

His 176-run third wicket stand with fellow centurion Abdullah Shafique set the tone and in hindsight it seemed like a correct decision to drop an out of form Fakhar Zaman and bring the youngster in.
"This is management and captain's decision. As a senior player, we can give advice," said Rizwan.

However, he remembers on reaching the ground, assistant coach Abdul Rahman told him that it was a batting strip.

"When we reached the ground, Abdul Rahman who is also our coach and there were 2-3 more players with me, said, 'Rizwan this pitch looks like a batting pitch. When we were bowling, I think it was 32nd or 33rd over that time, I told (Mohammed) Nawaz and 2-3 other players, if we restrict Sri Lanka to 340-plus, then I hope it's the best. If it goes above that, it means we're not bowling well."

Adapting to any batting slot is key

Rizwan feels that his biggest plus point in the past few years has been his adaptability while batting at different slots in different formats.

In T20Is, he has opened while he comes in at No. 4 in ODIs and that has given him a chance to look at game situations across formats from different angles.

"In T20, Misbah-ul-Haq asked me to open, now management gave me 4 number in the order for ODIs, maybe that's why I can see things. I think I had this thing from the beginning – the ability to adjust to the demands of different positions in the batting order," he said.

Told Shafique to not look at scoreboard

Shafique, one of the exciting talents in Pakistan cricket, scored 113 off 103 balls with 10 fours and three sixes and Rizwan's advice to him was to break the target into smaller parts.

So what was he telling the younger partner during their 176-run stand?

"I told Abdullah, 'Don't look at the board'. We kept following our plan, because there was a separate plan till 20 over, there was a separate plan till 30 and then there was a separate plan till 40 over. This is what we planned."

"In big chases we have had contributions from Babar Azam. Unfortunately, when he got out, then we chalked a plan that now till 20 overs, we would bat normally. It was this communication and calculation. The way Abdullah built the innings in the beginning, the kind of shots he hit, made it easy for us to chase the score," he said. 

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