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Raja critical of Rizwan's 'limited' ability

The former opener termed pacer Mohammad Irfan’s bowling against Australia embarrassing

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan’s cricketer-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja, in a Youtube video on Sunday, was critical of the performance of wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who replaced former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed in the Men in Green’s Twenty20 International (T20I) side in their first encounter against Australia in Sydney.

Raja believed that Rizwan did not have the necessary skills to thrive at the number-four position in the batting order.

“At number-four we saw the energy, we saw the commitment, we saw a good mind in Rizwan but he is not of the same quality as other number-four players in international teams. You can see that England plays Joe Root, Australia plays Steve Smith and India occasionally plays Virat Kohli at number-four. Pakistan needs a proper batsman for the position,” said Raja.

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The former opener termed pacer Mohammad Irfan’s bowling against Australia embarrassing and believed that the Men in Green would have to rethink their strategy in order to combat the Aussies.

“The way Irfan started the miserable spell of bowling was embarrassing. Like a broken plane he could not land. The first two balls were high full tosses then he bowled a no ball. He gave away 31 runs in two overs. I cannot understand this selection because if he was just selected on the basis of his height because the matches were in Australia, where there are bouncy pitches then you should have also thought about the form he is in. Can he even bowl in one place or not?” he said. “Pakistan will have to rethink once more; maybe they could use Imad Wasim with the new ball because he seems like a safer bet than Irfan.”

Raja praised the performance of the new captain Babar Azam, who he believed played with a lot of confidence.

“The positive from the match was Babar Azam’s form which was very important. He is a young captain and would have gained a lot of confidence. He played a great knock. His body language was very strong,” he said.

 The 57-year-old pointed out the importance of the form of batsmen Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail for the Men in Green and offered advice inorder to help the batsmen succeed.

“Fakhar Zaman is either a hit or a massive miss. He either plays a big knock or scores a duck. He needs to realise that an opener’s 20 or 25 runs in T20I’s are very valuable. Haris Sohail is not the kind of batsman that can slog the third or fourth ball he plays. He times the ball really well and if he gives himself a little time in the middle, he could be a player like Babar Azam,” he said.

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Raja believed Pakistan was stuck in terms of skill levels in T20I’s while the whole world was making progress.

“It seems like Pakistan’s T20I skills are now stagnant. The world is moving forward while Pakistan is stuck at the same level in terms of their skill levels and they will have to be careful in terms of selection. They have to play with an attacking mindset,” he concluded.