Is It Time to Sideline Mohammad Rizwan From ODI Cricket?

 Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan’s top wicket-keeper batter, won praise for his fierce batting performance in the T20 format. While the star batter’s aggressive attitude has worked well in the short format, his form in ODI cricket is far from impressive.

ODI Career

Mohammad Rizwan has played 49 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) since his debut in 2015. The wicket-keeper has only scored two centuries in his seven years of ODI cricket. Mohammad Rizwan reached 1,000 ODI runs at an average of 29 with his last half-century against the Netherlands. It’s interesting to note that Mohammad Rizwan’s T20I average is slightly less than his ODI average, however, his striking ability at the top makes him valuable as an opener.

While the star performs admirably in the shorter format, his approach in ODI cricket is somewhat perplexing, since neither his strike rate of 86 nor his average of 29 defines his role in the middle overs.

The disparity between ‘Rizwan, the T20I opener’ and ‘Rizwan, the ODI middle-order batter’ raises the question of whether Rizwan should continue to play ODI cricket.

After several international players described ODI cricket as a long, tiresome, and unexciting form of cricket sandwiched between the glamorous T20 and the classic Test cricket, Babar Azam was asked if Rizwan, Shaheen, and himself would be willing to forego a format in order to maintain workload. Although the captain’s response hinted at no such plans, it is perhaps the preferable alternative for Rizwan.

Rizwan’s expectations are definitely more than “simply a wicket-keeper batter” because the world has seen him at his best in T20 cricket. In this case, putting Mohammad Rizwan in a position where he is unable to play his natural game may have an impact on his performance in other formats as well.

T20 cricket is the future, after all.

T20 Leagues

This idea may irritate traditional critics, but Mohammad Rizwan taking a sabbatical from ODI cricket and instead participating in a few T20 leagues may prove far more helpful as spectators get to watch him in full swing and he gets to strengthen his aggressive batting style even more.

Opening in ODI

Since Mohammad Rizwan has continually failed to demonstrate his naturally aggressive style in the middle order, Pakistan is also constantly dealing with the underutilization of powerplay due to poor initial run rate, a bit of batting line-up reshuffling may be beneficial. Promoting Mohammad Rizwan to the opening position in his ODI career with the intention of playing attacking cricket head-on can offer Pakistan with an early push in the powerplay while also providing the right-hander with much-needed ODI form.

The stance is statistically and historically validated since Mohammad Rizwan’s average and strike rate in T20I soared from 21.71 and 93.82 to 67.13 and 134.51 respectively after he was promoted from the middle order to the opening slot.

Hence, with the ODI World Cup 2023 on the horizon, the captain, team management, and selectors need to revisit their decision to continue with Mohammad Rizwan. It is perhaps the right time to allow Rizwan to improve his game in ODI cricket. Returning to domestic cricket would be the right thing to do, however, he has time and again proved that he is the best wicket-keeper batter in the domestic circuit. If selectors were to replace him, it would be difficult for them to replace him.

Mohammad Haris is young and energetic, Azam Khan is there and so are a few others, but Rizwan is a proven match-winner especially when it comes to domestic cricket. Sending him back to the domestic circuit would be a hard choice, but one that must be made. There’s still time in the next ODI World Cup that is scheduled to be held in India, however, Pakistan won’t be playing too many ODI matches before the mega event which makes things difficult for the selectors and captain Babar Azam.

Do you think it is time to drop Mohammad Rizwan from the ODI squad? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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