PCB chief selector hits back at Babar-Rizwan critics


Babar Rizwan and Mohammad Rizwan put together four 150-run partnerships in T20Is in 2021, to go with six overall century-plus stands. Picture Credit: AP/File Picture

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan’s strike rate as T20I openers has come under scanner.
  • Fans and former greats have slammed them for showing a lack of attacking intent in the powerplay overs.
  • Babar and Rizwan had a contrasting campaign in the recently concluded Asia Cup T20 tournament.
Pakistan’s men’s cricket team captain, Babar Azam, and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan, are two of the best batters in world cricket at present times. The duo has performed well in all three formats of the game on a regular basis for quite some time now and are a valuable asset to the team. In the T20I format of the game, the duo has scored more than 1000 runs since the start of 2021. But these days, the duo is facing criticism for their performance in the recently concluded Asia Cup.

The 2022 edition of the Asia Cup T20 tournament was a contrasting one for Rizwan and Babar. While Rizwan finished the tournament as the highest run-getter by scoring 281 runs at an average of 56.20 and a strike rate of 117.57, Babar could only manage to score 68 runs in six matches at an average of 11.33 and a strike rate of 107.93.

And after Pakistan suffered a 23-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the summit clash on Sunday (September 11), fans, former greats and experts of the game slammed both for their poor strike rate at the top, as they believe it has cost Pakistan dearly at the top of the order. Their argument is that even if both Rizwan and Babar score plenty of runs every time they step in, they do consume a lot of balls, which hurts the side in the shortest format.

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After Pakistan announced the 15-member squad for the upcoming edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Thursday (September 15), Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief selector Mohammad Wasim was asked about the decision not to have a back-up opener, to which he backed the under-four duo by highlighting their contributions in Pakistan’s recent run in T20Is.

“Both of them have brought us enough success. You are talking about breaking up the best opening pair in world cricket. They are our strongest point, and the numbers show they have scored runs with great consistency. I understand reservations about their strike rate, but you will see improvements in it,” Wasim said.

Rizwan (1326) and Babar (939) finished as the top two run getters in T20Is in 2021 and played a big role in the team’s success over India in the T20 World Cup last year. The duo added an unbeaten 152 runs for the first wicket against the Men in Blue in 17.5 overs to help Pakistan secure their first win over their arch-rivals in World Cup history. They ended the year as the most successful opening pair in the world, putting together four 150-run partnerships in T20Is in 2021, to go with six overall century-plus stands.

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