ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s head coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has confirmed that Mohammad Rizwan would remain the first-choice wicketkeeper while going forward saying the Peshawar-born cricketer was doing great.
Sarfaraz Ahmed was reluctant to play the final Twenty20 during the England series while Rizwan, Pakistan’s first-choice wicketkeeper, played every other game and had an impressive tour; his performance with the gloves – particularly in the Test series – was widely praised.
With the bat, he scored two fighting half-centuries and was named Pakistan’s Player of the Series. He played the first two T20s as well, before Ahmed replaced him for the final match. But the team management and captain Babar Azam had to convince Ahmed to play the match, assuring him his career wouldn’t be defined by one game, and he still had a future with the national team.
“He didn’t refuse to play but raised genuine reservations over being asked to play in the last match of the tour,” Misbah told ESPNcricinfo.
“The situation naturally gives you a concern and that’s fair because he thought that a dip in his performance may get us to judge him going forward. Babar, Younis Khan, the batting coach and I spoke with him and told him that he did well on the tour and he should play one game without any additional pressure. There was a need for clarity and we communicated effectively with him well before the game.”
Pakistan eventually won the game to draw the series, and while Sarfraz had a relatively incident-free game – he didn’t bat – he did come under mild scrutiny for fluffing a golden chance to stump Moeen Ali early in his innings. Ali went on to score 61 off 33 balls, bringing England to within six runs of victory.
Misbah confirmed that going forward, Rizwan remains the first-choice wicketkeeper but insisted Ahmed had a future with the side. “It’s totally wrong,” Misbah said when asked if the game was Ahmed’s farewell.
“We told him that performances aren’t judged on the basis of just one game. He worked hard throughout the tour, did well in the side matches and kept well. We have two keepers at the moment, and Rizwan is our No. 1 choice, he is doing great in terms of performance and enjoys our utmost confidence. And Ahmed right now is our second choice. He has done great in the past and can still contribute in the future,” he said.