Undeterred By Adversity, Rizwan Proves His Place As A Top Player Of Pakistani Squad

When I saw Mohammad Rizwan playing in a domestic T20 match a few years ago, I immediately realised that he was all set to represent Pakistan at the international level. As a wicket-keeper, he looked more agile and skilful than all of his contemporaries. He was taking unbelievable catches and his stumpings were brilliant. As a batsman, he dominated all the bowlers with his knack of rotating the strike and his ability to hit boundaries. The best thing about him was his body language as he looked determined to achieve uncharted heights in his career.

However, in spite of his exceptional talent, his path to international glory was littered with thorns. He became the most trolled Pakistani player, both on social media and in certain sections of electronic media. A segment of cricket pundits seemed to be on a mission to malign him and his talent, discrediting his abilities with the bat and the gloves. The battle which he had to fight to cement his place in the team was daunting and incredibly unnerving. On the one hand, he had to concentrate on his keeping and batting, and on the other, he had to take on his malevolent detractors. It went on to such an extent that even his top performances overseas were mercilessly disparaged and the series of scathing remarks continued unabated.

But he emerged as a man of steel nerves and befittingly answered all his detractors with a spectacular performance in the test match against the mighty South Africans in Rawalpindi. Behind the stumps, he turned out to be safe as a house and pulled off breath-taking catches and stumps in this series. He scored a century in the second innings, becoming the only wicket-keeper to score a hundred against South Africa.

He arrived at the crease with 63-4, which placed Pakistan in all sorts of trouble. But he led his innings unfazed by the pressure of the situation and began playing his natural game of nudge-and-run. Wickets kept tumbling from the other end of the pitch, but he maintained his composure, shouldering the immense responsibility of sticking it out to the end. He managed to score an undefeated 100, punctuated with 15 boundaries. This century turned out to be decisive and Pakistan secured a historic series win with a washout by 2-0. Pakistan's victory margin was 95 given their top-order collapse. South Africa would surely have cruised to a win had it not been for Rizwan and his bat.

I hope his top-notch performances will have silenced his detractors for good. Rizwan is truly the player who rightfully deserved the man of the series award in the test series against a world-class team like the Proteas. A young man like him who fought a nerve-racking battle must be duly applauded and trusted to continue serving the Pakistani team.