Pakistan's wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan has thrown his weight behind the under-fire openers and stated that opening isn't an easy task in Test cricket and there's a need to back them. He also admitted that Pakistan have failed to capitalize on winning situations in overseas Tests.
The opening Test between West Indies and Pakistan turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller, with the hosts registering a one-wicket win. On a tricky pitch, the Pakistan batters struggled largely, including the openers, who exposed the middle-order in both innings of the Test. Imran Butt and Abid Ali's opening-stand added 21 and 1 in the two innings respectively.
After featuring in five Tests, Imran Butt has averaged 17.50 with the bat. While Abid Ali, who made a remarkable return to form against Zimbabwe after struggling in the South Africa Tests, also failed to impress. However, Mohammad Rizwan has batted for the Pakistan openers and stated that opening is one of the most difficult tasks in Tests.
"It's not that the boys haven't given acceptable performances. In a short series like this, we can't make changes overnight and it's also important to back our openers. Ultimately, opening in Tests isn't an easy task at all. You also need to look at the conditions on offer. On pitches where batting is really tough, we can't really fault the openers alone," Rizwan said ahead of the second Test.
In overseas Tests, Pakistan have been guilty of not capitalizing on winning positions in the past. Even in the Test series opener, they had West Indies on the ropes when the hosts needed 26 with two wickets in hand, and 17 at the fall of their ninth wicket. Kemar Roach however, guided them to an epic win in a cliffhanger. Rizwan admitted that his side have failed to capitalize on winning positions in away Tests, and also rued Pakistan poor's fielding and luck.
"It's true that we haven't been able to capitalise on winning situations overseas. We're concentrating on ironing out those flaws. The boys are working hard and gelling well. Fielding is one area where we need to perform well and I'm sure we will get that done. We're confident of doing enough hard work to get the results."
"Quite a few edges didn't go to hand and we weren't good in the field at certain periods. But the boys put their best effort and we're confident of bouncing back in the next game which is a crucial game for us. Hopefully, we can perform well and level the series."
Pakistan had a poor run in the inaugural WTC cycle, but Rizwan is confident that the team will turn around their fortunes this time around.
"Yeah, the start hasn't been nice but if you look at it, our boys put in a lot of effort, especially having had to transition quickly from white-ball cricket to the Test format. I agree the last cycle didn't go our way but the boys have made a common goal of doing well this time around. As someone famously said 'It isn't about how you start, but how you finish. The new cycle has just started and there is time to turn things around.
With a tight schedule coming up for the Men in Green, several players are supposed to be rested for the upcoming series to manage the workload efficiently. The 29-year-old asserted that it's paramount to manage the workload of the players well.
"It is an important thing (rest) because a lot of us have been playing a lot of cricket non-stop since the last 12 months. More importantly, bubble life has been taxing for all of us. So some of us senior players have felt that with the crucial World Cup coming up, it would be good to have a break to get refreshed mentally. It's also a good opportunity for the fringe players whoever they are."