Saturday Jan 22, 2022
KARACHI: Muhammad Rizwan had a great run in 2021. The wicket-keeper batter of the Pakistan cricket team scored 2,036 runs in the T20 format, the most ever by any cricketer in the format.
The 29-year-old has set his eyes on improving his record in 2022.
In an exclusive interview with Geo News, the Multan Sultans captain in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) spoke about the year 2021, his struggles before becoming the top batter, his future plans, and PSL 7.
Rizwan, when asked about his averages in the initial days of his career, confidently responded: “I never think about averages, those who think about averages, remain average players.”
“It was probably due to the team’s requirement or may be there was no place for me in the top order then. I’ve also batted at the eighth position for my team — and I don’t blame anyone for that as it was a requirement then, but it is true that it wasn’t helping my batting then,” the cricketer said, about his initial days in the Pakistan team.
He also mentioned: “It is now for everyone to see how things changed for me when I started batting in the top order."
While talking about the struggles faced by cricketers, he said: “Everyone struggles through their initial days; if you don’t go through that phase then you don’t know what it takes to become a top professional."
He said that struggles come in all careers and not just cricket, adding that: "I believe in one thing: that Allah surely rewards the one who works hard. So, that thought in my mind kept me going."
The wicket-keeper batter added that the one thing which he constantly keeps in mind is not to lose his wicket — this is something which he doesn’t like.
“I don’t feel good when I lose my wicket. I give it my all every time to save my wicket. Even if it is a close run out, I dive to protect my wicket,” he said.
Rizwan, referring to his performance in 2021, said that he feels that whatever he lost in his initial days as far as scoring runs was concerned was covered in just one year.
But he added that he wants to improve his record and do even better than before in the year to come.
Talking about the viral video of him doing shadow practice ahead of the game with the Indian team, Rizwan said that this is something he does regularly.
“I usually go and try to read the wicket before any match, then I assume how things can be and then I practice accordingly. I did the same before the match with India and things unfolded exactly the way I practised,” Rizwan recalled.
He said that playing the semifinal against Australia — despite spending nights in the hospital — wasn’t an easy decision.
“I told doctors that I want to play because I am answerable to my countrymen for my performance. The doctors said that they also want to see me playing and are my fans which motivated me. They wanted me to spend the night before the match in hospital and go to the stadium directly from the hospital.
"I stayed in hospital but went to the hotel to join my teammates before the stadium. We tried well but unfortunately we couldn’t win that game,” Rizwan recalled.
The opening batter said that he enjoys his partnership with Babar Azam, adding that both of them "always aim to stay on the wicket for longer" and not lose their wickets
Rizwan also recalled the time when they chased a big total against South Africa. He said: "Earlier, we wanted to post 200 undefeated but it didn’t work as Babar bhai had lost his wicket, but against India, we didn’t relax even for a moment and chased the target without losing any wicket."
“I didn’t know how big the game was until I saw the reaction of people back home after the match with India,” Rizwan added.
Talking about PSL 7, the captain of Multan Sultans said that he’ll enter the field with the thought of defending the title for his team but what is gone is gone and it is a new year with new challenges.
He also praised his teammate Shahnawaz Dahani.
“Dahani brings positive energy to the team, whenever we’re in a tensed situation, and helps us feel relaxed and eases off the pressure,” he said.
“Being a captain, I have to behave according to the situation. Sometimes I’m strict, sometimes I am friendly. You’ve to be jolly at times and reserved at times depending on the situation and a captain must know how to behave according to the situation. I am not too good at this, but I am learning and trying to do whatever is best for my team,” Rizwan said.
Talking about bio-secure bubbles, the wicket-keeper batter said that he personally is not affected by bubble life because he used to live like this even before bubbles were introduced.
“I used to be in my own bubble even before these bio-secure bubbles came. I am not very outgoing and spend most of my time in a room, but yeah, it has affected players who are social and opt for going out after matches. I salute them. They have to endure it all for the sake of their country. It is not easy for them,” he acknowledged.