Fans furious as Pakistan bring back Sarfraz Ahmed for Mohammad Rizwan
Pakistani fans were left fuming after the team's decision to leave out vice-captain and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan for the Boxing Day Test in Karachi against New Zealand. Babar Azam & company instead drafted former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed back in the side after a sustained absence from the time Rizwan replaced him.
Rizwan paid dearly for his loss of form and poor performances during Pakistan's 3-0 Test series whitewash in home conditions. The right-hander scored only 141 runs over six innings in good batting conditions, becoming a casualty of Pakistan's embarrassing loss in front of their passionate fans.
It was Sarfaraz, whose decline from the captaincy mantle and subsequent axing from the playing XI, which had paved way for Rizwan's surge as Pakistan's designated first-choice wicketkeeper. Now in a reversal of the order, Sarfaraz was picked by the new interim selection panel, led by former captain Shahid Afridi, for the first Test versus the Kiwis.
It's a scenario that didn't go down well with Pakistan fans, who felt that the selectors have made Rizwan the scapegoat of the defeats to England and taken a backward step in bringing Sarfaraz back into the Test team.
Fans react to Pakistan's Sarfaraz-Rizwan swap
Pakistan may have been reeling with batting issues throughout the series versus England but there were little expectations that Rizwan would be made the direct casualty for the same as the Afridi-led selection committee brought back Sarfaraz to fill the player's void.
Here is how the fans reacted:
Pakistan dropped Mohammad Rizwan after just a couple of poor Test matches, whereas, over the years, he has been one of the established pillars of Pakistan cricket. For such moves, a sensible system never flourishes in Pakistan. They end up being a laughing stock. #PakvNZ— FCMP (@fcmp1970) December 26, 2022
Sarfaraz Ahmed playing his first Test in Pakistan!— Pruthvi Patel (@Pruthvipatel98) December 26, 2022
Mohammad Rizwan dropped!
Shahid Afridi dropped rizwan ??
Babar Azam dropped rizwan ??
Thats the question...... #PAKvNZ
Couple of bad series don’t make anyone a poor player. Out of form players must be backed. Only that way you can establish a team. Pakistan prematurely dropped Shan Masood in 2020 and it wasted his two peak years. Hope it does not happen with Rizwan or any other player. #PakvNZ— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) December 25, 2022
Since making his comeback in 2019, Mohammad Rizwan has played all 26 Tests for Pakistan. He's averaging 39 in Test cricket since then and among keepers, only Rishabh Pant has scored more runs than him. Rizwan's streak of 26 consecutive Tests could end in Karachi today. #PAKvNZ— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) December 25, 2022
Sometimes I don't understand Pakistan cricket & Pakistani experts.— Ravi Pratap Dubey (@ravipratapdubey) December 26, 2022
Just A few days ago every1 was crying that Mohammad Rizwan should be given rest and Sarfaraz should be in 11.
Today, when Babar Azam taken Sarfaraz in Team, same guys criticizing. Chahte Kya ho bhai !!#PakvsNZ
As for Mohammad Rizwan, no doubt he is an excellent player but no one is indispensable— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) December 26, 2022
Everything happening in Pakistan cricket is pointing at Sarfaraz Ahmed being made the captain again 😂😂 #PAKvNZ— Gaurav Nandan Tripathi 🜃 (@Cric_Beyond_Ent) December 26, 2022
The decision was taken even as Rizwan averages a highly impressive 38.13 at the Test level and had proven over the years a batting upgrade on Sarfaraz after replacing him during the 2019 tour of Australia. Rizwan has made nine scores of fifty or beyond, including two tons, over 27 Test matches but finds himself sidelined after a poor series.
His replacement Sarfaraz, though, had in his time proven to be an effective No.7 for Pakistan in himself, averaging a healthy 36.39 after 49 Test matches.