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Rizwan's winning formula for ODI World Cup dominance

Source: PTI
October 07, 2023 12:00 IST
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Chat with Saeed Anwar before World Cup has helped Rizwan make promising start in India

Mohammad Rizwan

IMAGES: Moahmmed Rizwan's 120-run stand with Saud Shakeel that allowed Pakistan to recover from a shaky start and post 286 against Netherlands on Friday. Photograph: Pakistan Cricket Board/X

A conversation with former Pakistan opener Saeed Anwar on how to bat in Indian conditions has contributed to Mohammad Rizwan's bright start in the ODI World Cup.

Rizwan is among the majority of squad members who are touring India for the first time. He scored a fine hundred in the warm-up against New Zealand before scoring a crucial 68 in Pakistan's World Cup opener against Netherlands after the team lost its first three wickets for 38 runs.


"Cricket is condition specific. Sometimes within a match itself, conditions change. Sometimes it starts off as a flat pitch, then starts seaming. Sometimes it takes turn. Prior to coming here, I did have a chat with Saeed Anwar. He spoke of the same thing, how it's important to read conditions well,” Rizwan said responding to a PTI query after the 81-run win on Friday.

"It's not like pitches are always flat in India, yes, it's good for batting but there is some help for spin and seamers. If you watched England versus Bangladesh (warm-up game), it seamed and swung a great deal.
“You saw today, how Haris Rauf was breathing fire and hitting some late seam movement. So we have to train specific to conditions."

'Saud could be next superstar of Pakistan cricket'

It was Rizwan's 120-run stand with Saud Shakeel that allowed Pakistan to recover from a shaky start and post 286. In fact, Saud, playing only his seventh ODI after a prolific start to his Test career, was the aggressor in the partnership.

"If Saud maintains the hard work he's doing, then Pakistan will have found themselves another superstar. Because he's a bit different in the way he's gifted. When I bat with Saud I tell him I'm not planning anything with him, because the way he plays his shots get him runs anyway."

"If he plays like he normally does, he'll be fine and score quickly. But he has gifts that make him a different kind of superstar. We had said that we'd start to plan after 33 overs for the final stages of the innings. But then he got out a little short of 33 overs, and so did I (laughs)," said the wicketkeeper batter.

He was expectedly asked about another failure of the openers especially Fakhar Zaman whose highest score is 33 in his last 11 innings. Imam averages fifty in the format but need to up his strike rate.

"Yes, it's a good question," he said with a laugh when asked about the openers.

"But you also have to understand, the last two years, the reason for us becoming No. 1 was our top three. Just before the Asia Cup, Fakhar Zaman was named the ICC Player of the Month. Before that, Imam had hundreds upon hundreds. We think this is an opportunity for the middle order to showcase its form. And now the middle order is also performing."

Rizwan, however, would want his team to do more on the fielding aspect of the game.

Talking about his time in India so far, Rizwan said the team is looking forward to visiting other cities after a two-week stay in Hyderabad.

"We want to take it (the love and support) back to Pakistan (laughs). It feels we are at home. I am sure wherever we travel in India, we are here for the first time, and we have heard Pakistan players get a lot of love. We would be happy going to Delhi or Mumbai also (where Pakistan are not playing)," he added. 

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