Mohammad Rizwan, the leading run-scorer of the Asia Cup, has divided fans and experts with his batting approach in the final clash. While one set of fans is impressed with his consistency but a majority of them criticized him for batting at a below-par strike rate against Sri Lanka. The wicketkeeper-batter faced 49 deliveries and scored 55 which eventually wasn’t good enough for the Pakistan team. In the end, the momentum never shifted in Pakistan’s favor as they got bundled out for 147 runs and lost the match by 23 runs.
The reactions were immediate as well, with legends like Wasim Akram and Gautam Gambhir seen criticizing Rizwan for batting slowly in a high-chase game. Pakistan lost a couple of early wickets as Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman were dismissed in the fourth over of the innings. Rizwan had to build the innings but his strike rate never improved.
Sanjay Manjrekar who was in the commentary panel along with the former Pakistan skipper did point out Rizwan’s strike rate, which was 104 in the 16th over of the match. Akram then recalled a time when he criticized the opener but in return was the target of many in social media.
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During his commentary stint in Star Sports, Wasim Akram said, “He (Rizwan) had done the same thing against Hong Kong if you remember. I criticized him, which was healthy criticism. And people attacked me on social media. Pakistan people said that I don’t support Rizwan. If you want my opinion, I will give you the right and straightforward opinion. I am not the guy who will lie about what I see. Black is black and white is white for me.”
With Pakistan’s approach being the center point of discussion, head coach Saqlain Mushtaq came in support of Rizwan’s approach on the night of the finals. The 45-year-old reckons that people sitting outside don’t know what’s going on in the dressing room and thus make such comments. He also gave an important update on how Asif Ali and Shadab Khan were injured before going out to bat.
Saqlain Mushtaq said, “Easy to comment from the outside, one gets to know only when they are part of the team. I have worked as an expert for three years. So, I know how things worked. Once they work closely with the cricketers from inside only then will they get to know about the team bonding, the environment.”
In the post-match press conference, he further added, “Asif played with four stitches in his hand. Shadab’s ear was bleeding, he was concussed after the collision and despite all of this he went to bat.”