‘Can’t understand’: Fury over Pakistan’s ‘ridiculous’ call over Mohammad Rizwan, SCG rescue job

Pakistan’s selections have come under question after a player who wasn’t even picked for the first Test rescued the tourists after a disastrous start to the third Test.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Pakistan were on the ropes at 2/0 when openers Abdullah Shafique and Saim Ayub were dismissed for two-ball ducks.

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Captain Shan Masood (35) and Babar Azam (26) steadied the ship, but it was Mohammad Rizwan who saved Pakistan’s blushes with a counterattacking 88 off 103 balls.

A rearguard knock from Aamir Jamal (82 off 97 balls) saw Pakistan fight back to post 313 as the Aussie openers survived an over to be 0/6 at stumps.

Rizwan was in superb touch, hitting a glorious on drive down the ground and striking two sixes including one particularly clean pull shot off Josh Hazlewood.

Without Rizwan’s innings, the Test match might have been over very quickly. So it begs the question, why wasn’t he picked in Pakistan’s team for the first Test in Perth.

Pakistan opted for Sarfaraz Ahmed in the series opener, but he managed scores of just three and four as Australia romped to a 360-run victory.

Rizwan returned to the team for the Boxing Day Test and was one of Pakistan’s best, picking up scores of 42 and 35.

That second innings at the MCG could well have turned into a matchwinning knock had Rizwan not fallen victim to a sharp Pat Cummins bouncer that glanced off the wristband attached to his glove.

The controversial dismissal, which Australia successfully reviewed via DRS, all but extinguished any hope Pakistan had of levelling the series.

Despite falling just short of a third Test century at the SCG, Rizwan is staking his claim as the world’s leading wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket and cricket pundits were astonished he was overlooked for the first Test.

Sports broadcaster Adam White tweeted: “I’m not sure what is more ridiculous. Shaheen Shah Afridi being rested in this Sydney Test or Mohammad Rizwan not being selected in the Perth Test. It’s a photo finish.”

Daniel Garb said: “They actually left Rizwan out of the First Test team. #AUSvPAK.”

Fox Cricket commentator Isa Guha wrote during the Boxing Day Test: “Can’t understand why Rizwan didn’t play the first Test.”

It comes as the omission of Pakistan spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi for the third and final Test raised eyebrows.

The fast bowler has been one of Pakistan’s most dangerous threats with the ball but was rested for the final match of the series.

A heavy workload in the Boxing Day Test has resulted in Afridi being put on ice by the visitors in preparation for a T20 series rather than playing the final Test.

Pakistan cricket icons Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis have both slammed the move.

“He should be playing. I know he’s bowled a lot of overs,” Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket.

“It’s Test Match cricket. I just don’t get it. He’s the best bowler. He’s the leader of the attack. He should be playing.”

Afridi was replaced by Sajid Khan, while Pakistan also axed the senior member of their opening pair, Imam-ul-Haq and turned to debutant Saim Ayub.

Afridi bowled 27 overs in both innings last week in Melbourne, including a second-innings haul of 4-76.

It is understood the left-arm quick, who was appointed Pakistan’s T20 captain in November, has been rested ahead of the five-match series against New Zealand beginning January 12.

He took on a significantly higher workload than Pakistan’s other three quick bowlers at the MCG as they only turned to part-time spinner Salman Ali Agha for 11 overs during the match.

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