The fervently pious keeper-batter amassed an undefeated 131 off 121 balls, helping Pakistan achieve the best successful run-chase in World Cup history with 345 for 4.
“When we got to the ground for the first time, he (curator) said, ‘Rizwan, you must hit two 100s on this ground’. I met him today as well. We can pray for him and you should pray for him too,” Rizwan said at the post-match press conference as Pakistan team ended its two-week Hyderabad leg on a high with two wins in two games.
Rizwan felt as though he was playing in Rawalpindi because to the warmth and love Pakistan received in Nizam’s native land.
“I felt like I was playing a match in Pindi. The way the crowd gave love today (Tuesday), and not just me, the whole Pakistan team got love. In fact, they supported Sri Lanka too. I am happy that the crowd in Hyderabad has supported cricket, both Sri Lanka and us. I had a lot of fun with them.”
Hospitality of Hyderabad was unparalleled.
“Hospitality, you all must have seen it. Someone must have taken pictures when we came to the airport. I said earlier that I felt like I was playing in front of crowd of Rawalpindi. Our ground in Lahore is big, a lot of people come there but today it seems that Pakistan’s match is taking place in Rawalpindi,” Rizwan said while speaking to the media on Tuesday.
“I knew 340-350 was chaseable”
His 176-run third wicket stand with fellow centurion Abdullah Shafique set the tone and in hindsight it seemed like a correct decision to drop an out of form Fakhar Zaman and bring the youngster in.
“This is management and captain’s decision. As a senior player, we can give advice,” said Rizwan.
However, he remembers on reaching the ground, assistant coach Abdul Rahman told him that it was a batting strip.
“When we reached the ground, Abdul Rahman who is also our coach and there were 2-3 more players with me, said, ‘Rizwan this pitch looks like a batting pitch. When we were bowling, I think it was 32nd or 33rd over that time, I told (Mohammed) Nawaz and 2-3 other players, if we restrict Sri Lanka to 340-plus, then I hope it’s the best. If it goes above that, it means we’re not bowling well.”
Adapting to any batting slot is key
Rizwan believes that his flexibility to bat at various places in various formats has been his greatest asset over the last several years.
He bats at the fourth position in ODIs but has opened in T20Is, which has allowed him to view game circumstances in all forms from various perspectives.
“In T20, Misbah-ul-Haq asked me to open, now management gave me 4 number in the order for ODIs, maybe that’s why I can see things. I think I had this thing from the beginning – the ability to adjust to the demands of different positions in the batting order,” he said.
Told Shafique to not look at scoreboard
One of Pakistan cricket’s most intriguing talents, Shafique, hit 113 off 103 balls with 10 fours and three sixes. Rizwan advised him to divide the target into smaller halves.
So what was he telling the younger partner during their 176-run stand?
“I told Abdullah, ‘Don’t look at the board’. We kept following our plan, because there was a separate plan till 20 over, there was a separate plan till 30 and then there was a separate plan till 40 over. This is what we planned.
“In big chases we have had contributions from Babar Azam. Unfortunately, when he got out, then we chalked a plan that now till 20 overs, we would bat normally. It was this communication and calculation. The way Abdullah built the innings in the beginning, the kind of shots he hit, made it easy for us to chase the score,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)