Pak vs Aus, 2nd Test – Mohammad Rizwan
The wicketkeeper-batter lauds Pakistan for earning a stunning draw against the top-ranked Test team
Pakistan ended seven down, having weathered a mini-storm when Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf and Sajid Khan all fell in quick succession in the final hour of play.
But Rizwan and Nauman were undaunted, coolly batting out the rest of play until, with three balls left in the final over, a draw was agreed upon. Rizwan got to his second Test hundred in the penultimate over of play after, having hit Nathan Lyon for two boundaries, he stole a single off a leading edge.
That personal landmark, however, was far from his mind through much of the innings.
“In victory the value of a hundred or a zero is the same because at that time, for us, the 18 balls Nauman faced, were more important for us,” Rizwan said in a PCB video. “If I had scored a hundred and we had lost the game, it would’ve had no value. So his 0 and my hundred were [of] the same value.
“He was really compact at the crease which gave me a lot of confidence. At stages like this, you think of getting singles on the 4th or 5th ball but when you have a compact player at the other end, you don’t need to try anything different, you don’t need to look for that single or boundary.”
Rizwan’s own hundred was yet another reminder – not that it was needed – of his importance to the side. Pakistan were never seriously chasing the target of 506 but with him and Babar at the crease together – Pakistan’s record-breaking T20 opening partnership – there always remained some outlandish hope.
Part of that was down to the way Rizwan goes about any innings; at a time when most people might have shut up shop, Rizwan skipped along at a strike rate of nearly 60. The pair put on 115 together but, more significantly, were together for just over 40 overs.
Rizwan had not had his best Test until then, having missed a couple of chances behind the stumps. But he put together some drills ahead of the innings to counter what he thought would be the main threats.
“I tried different drills to prepare,” he said. “I asked Iftikhar [Ahmed] in the nets to use tape-ball and bowl from angles like Pat Cummins did. Then I asked Zahid [Mahmood, the legspinner] to bowl to me in the rough area around the crease where we’d made marks from our spikes. I asked him to bowl in the flatter areas as well so to pick up where the ball was skidding. This is the kind of prep and work you have to do for match situations.”
Though Pakistan were dominated through much of the Test, the nature of its finish – batting out nearly two entire days – is likely to have buoyed them going into the final Test in Lahore.
“Just imagine it’s an international Test match, last session of the fifth day and the way we pulled out a draw that was historic,” he said. “Surviving the last two days isn’t a small thing and that too against the world’s top-ranked team.”
Though the hundred wasn’t a priority, he got there in the second-last over of the day, cutting it very close.
“The hundred wasn’t really on my mind especially when Nathan Lyon came on at that end. I knew I could get boundaries off the legspinner (Mitchell Swepson) because he was trying really hard, and ending up bowling either short or full tosses, so I thought I had a chance there. Then Lyon bowled that [penultimate] over and I thought no, no hundred, we just need to survive this over and then draw.
“But he bowled one I could cover drive, which I did, and one through midwicket. Then [on 99] I said to Nauman that I’ll call the single in front of square, you see otherwise, and only if it is a long single. Otherwise I was taking single on every fourth or fifth ball so that I could play the next over all by myself. I hit one straight back to Lyon [and had to scamper back to the crease] and then got one in the gap to get there.”