In a thrilling showdown at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, Mohammad Rizwan played a heroic innings, guiding Pakistan to a historic victory against Sri Lanka.
Rizwan's unbeaten 131* helped Pakistan achieve the highest successful run chase in Cricket World Cup history, with the team surpassing Sri Lanka's formidable total of 344 with six wickets in hand and 10 balls remaining.
Amidst the exhilarating match, Rizwan provided a refreshing perspective on his team's mindset and approach to the record-breaking chase. Speaking to Simon Doull for the ICC after being named Player of the Match, Rizwan shared insights into the team's belief and strategy.
Mohammad Rizwan underlines confidence in Pakistan team
Rizwan mentioned that the Pakistani players had unwavering confidence in their ability to chase down the challenging target right from the midway point of the innings.
He revealed, “Whenever you perform for your country, and the performance is like that, it is speechless for you. It was difficult because with a chase like that, it's always special.
“But the thing is, when we went into the dressing room after bowling, every player had belief that we were going to chase that. So that's why the positive vibes were in the mind.”
Key moments during the match played a crucial role in shaping Pakistan's winning mindset. One pivotal moment occurred when Kusal Mendis played a brilliant innings, scoring 122 off just 77 balls and propelling Sri Lanka to 218 in just 29 overs.
At that juncture, Pakistan decided that limiting Sri Lanka to a range of 340-350 was their best chance of victory. The bowlers, including Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf, stepped up to the task and successfully restricted Sri Lanka.
Another turning point was when Pakistan found themselves in trouble at 37/2 after the early dismissal of star batsman Babar Azam. Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique, who scored 113, decided to focus on building a substantial partnership rather than worrying about the run rate.
Their 176-run partnership laid the foundation for a quicker finish. Rizwan explained, “Basically, a chase of 300-plus is always… it's a good track, a supportive wicket for us. If we go deep and just turn the innings into a T20 innings towards the end, that's what we decided.”
As the chase progressed, Pakistan's required run rate fluctuated, but with Rizwan's presence and valuable contributions from Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed, they managed to bring the game to a rapid conclusion.
Rizwan's heroic innings, however, was not without drama. He experienced cramps during his impressive performance, leading to a humorous moment in the match.
Dasun Shanaka came to his aid, and Rizwan later joked, “Sometimes it's cramp, sometimes it's acting!”
In a post-match media conference, he acknowledged that cramping is something he occasionally deals with and credited the team's physio for helping him overcome it.
With two consecutive wins, Pakistan finds themselves in a strong position early in the tournament, second in the table behind New Zealand on net run rate.
Their next challenge is a highly anticipated match against India in Ahmedabad, and they will be hoping that Mohammad Rizwan remains fit and healthy to continue steering the team toward their ultimate goal.
Rizwan's comments and Pakistan's remarkable victory provide a refreshing perspective on the world of cricket, where belief, teamwork, and a sense of humor can play a vital role in achieving historic milestones.