KARACHI (Cricinfo): The PCB’s controversial decision to drop Mohammad Rizwan for Sarfaraz Ahmed for the two-Test series against New Zealand was among the biggest talking points throughout the series. Rizwan, however, said he felt that, on current form, he “didn’t deserve to play” for Pakistan at the time.
“You can ask the head coach Saqlain Mushtaq what I told him after the end of the England Test series,” Rizwan told Cricket Pakistan in an interview. “I personally thought that since I wasn’t able to perform, I didn’t deserve to play in the next series.”
In his last half dozen Tests, Rizwan had suffered a downturn in his form with the bat, scoring 262 runs in 12 innings without a half-century at an average of 21.83. That was significantly down from his career batting average (38.13), though it was believed his quality behind the stumps gave him enough protection from omission.
But soon after the PCB chairman Ramiz Raja was removed in a dramatic overhaul, changes were felt on the pitch, too. Rizwan was replaced by Sarfaraz, playing his first Test match in over three years. While concerns over his wicketkeeping linger – there were a slew of dropped catches and missed stumpings across both Tests – his form with the bat was not in question. He was the highest run-scorer in the series with 335, scoring three half-centuries and a hundred on the final day of the second Test to ensure Pakistan escaped with a draw. He would go on to be named the Player of the Series.
“I was happy to see Sarfaraz perform because that is what I wanted,” Rizwan said. “Sarfaraz has been performing in domestic and deserves his chance now. I asked for his inclusion. Whoever performs best for Pakistan deserves to play.
“Some players said that every player goes through this phase and you can’t sit on the bench based on few failures. But I went to the coach and captain myself and told them that you can drop me because I haven’t performed. Two players are witnesses to this conversation.”
This wasn’t the first time Rizwan’s benching raised eyebrows. He was famously left on the bench for much of his time at Karachi Kings, playing just seven times across his last two years with the franchise. Upon moving to Multan Sultans in 2021, he was appointed captain and led the side to their maiden PSL trophy, finishing as the second highest run-scorer in the competition.
Rizwan defended his former franchise’s decision. “I was never hurt when I was benched during the PSL in the past. I thought they [Karachi Kings] were honest with the team, and it was the team’s requirement at the time to keep me on the bench.”
Rizwan remains with Multan, whom he will captain for the third successive season when the PSL gets underway on February 13.