Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan’s 49-ball 55 in the Asia Cup 2022 final against Sri Lanka drew criticism from fans and former cricketers alike.
While performing the commentary duties, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir raised questions over Rizwan’s batting approach. On the other hand, ex-Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar stated that such knocks don’t benefit the national side.
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“Rizwan, 50 off 50 is not going to work anymore. Doesn’t benefit Pakistan,” Akhtar wrote on Twitter.
Amid the scrutiny, Pakistan head coach Saqlain Mushtaq defended Mohammad Rizwan’s innings in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka.
“Unki soch hai. Jo bahir log baithe hote hai na, wo bahir se cheezon ko dekhte hai aur uske upar baat kar dete hai (Easy to comment from outside, one gets to know only when they are part of the team)," said Saqlain in the post-match press conference, when asked about Rizwan’s criticism from the former cricketers.
Despite Rizwan’s half-century, Pakistan lost the Asia Cup 2022 final by 23 runs. However, the wicketkeeper-batter played a key role in helping the Men in Green reach the final. He finished the tournament as the top run-getter with 281 runs from 6 innings at an average of 56.20 and a strike rate of 117.57, including three fifties.
“It’s not their mistake. They saw the result, and scorecard and made their comments. They have no idea about what is happening inside the dressing room, what the players feel about their confidence and the injuries they are carrying.
“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 they will get to know about the team bonding, the environment,” the coach added.
Saqlain also lauded Asif Ali and Shadab Khan, who were involved in a nasty collision during the match but still went out to bat.
“Asif ke haath mey chaar taanke lage hue hai. Shadab ke kaan me se khoon nikal raha, usko concussion ka tha fir bhi batting karne ke liye gaya (Asia played with four stitches in his hand. Shadab’s ear was bleeding, he was concussed after the Collison and despite all of this he went to bat),” he said.
Earlier, Sri Lanka rode on Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s unbeaten 71 off 45 balls to post 170/6 on the board after being reduced to 58/5 at one stage. Wanindu Hasaranga also played a dazzling cameo of 21-ball 36.
“I’ll credit the Sri Lankans. We’d broken their backbone in the first nine overs, but the way Rajapaksa played, and the others rallied around him, no praise is enough. I’m sure it should be the best innings of his life. The way he lifted them, hats off,” stated Saqlain.
Defending the total, Sri Lankan bowlers’ combined effort saw Pakistan getting bundled out for 147 in 20 overs. Pramod Madushan (4-34) and Hasaranga (3-27) starred with the ball, sharing seven wickets between them.