'Fielding cost us the match,' Rizwan weighs in on NZ warm-up fixture loss

"We experimented, tried different things to test the bench," says Mohammad Rizwan

Sports Desk

Weighing in on Friday's warm-up match loss against New Zealand, Pakistan's top-order batsman and wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan on Saturday said that the "fielding cost us the match" as the team tried new things to test bench (strength) ahead of World Cup 2023.

Expressing his views in an interview released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the wicketkeeper-batsman accentuated that warm-up matches are "meant for applying new improvement strategies" and the team did just that by experimenting in their warm-up match against the Kiwis a day earlier.

Blaming below-par fielding for yesterday's loss against the Black Caps, Rizwan said that changes and experiments in fielding positions — which have been consistent for the past one and a half years — led to the warm-up match loss with the Kiwis successfully chasing down a 346-run target.

"We have to improve in some areas. We have been doing good in the fielding department [but in the warm-up match] things were different, [fielding] positions were changed," the wicketkeeper-batsman said.

"I believe fielding cost us the match," he added.

Rizwan — despite the loss — sees a silver lining and says that we got both positive results and learning outcomes with potential for improvement from the experimentation in the warm-up match.

Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed didn't bowl their respective 10 overs, nor did Haris Rauf bowl his remaining six overs, Rizwan said while commenting on the 346-run chase by the New Zealand team.

Our batsmen had a good run in yesterday's match, he added while accentuating the batting performance of the team.

Expressing his views on his unbeaten 103 runs off 93 balls, Rizwan said that he had an idea that the pitches in India were favourable for batting.

"I and skipper [Babar Azam] try to assess the conditions and play according to the situation," he said.

"You always get satisfaction no matter where you score a century, whether it be domestic or club cricket," Rizwan said while commenting on his innings.

It is pertinent to know that Pakistan, in their warm-up match against New Zealand on Friday, had won the toss and opted to bat first.

The Men in Green posted a 346-run target for Kiwis to win the game, with the help of Mohammad Rizwan's impressive century.

Mohammad Rizwan top-scored for his side by scoring an astounding knock of 103 runs off 93 which included 11 boundaries.

Pakistan’s captain, Babar, was the second top-scorer as he scored 80 off 84 and with 10 boundaries.

'Goosebumps,' Rizwan on ecstatic welcome

Shedding light on the remarkable welcome received by the Pakistani team in India, Rizwan said that they always get support and love from Indian fans around the world.

"We thought we landed at Karachi, Lahore airport after winning the World Cup [...] the players had goosebumps," he said on the warm welcome by the jubilant Indian crowd which had gathered at the airport to get a glimpse of the Men in Green.

It is to be noted that the Pakistan cricket team upon their arrival at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport India for the World Cup 2023 were greeted by ecstatic Indian fans at the airport earlier this week.

Excited crowds, held back by officers, cheered and shouted the team captain's name Babar Azam, as the Pakistani contingent — comprising 18 players and 13-player support personnel — arrived at the airport in the southern Indian city for the one-day international (ODI) tournament which opens on October 5.

Pakistan's schedule for the ICC World Cup 2023:

October 6 — vs Netherlands in Hyderabad

October 10 — vs Sri Lanka in Hyderabad

October 14 — vs India in Ahmedabad

October 20 — vs Australia in Bengaluru

October 23 — vs Afghanistan in Chennai

October 27 — vs South Africa in Chennai

October 31 — vs Bangladesh in Kolkata

November 4 — vs New Zealand Bengaluru (Day match)