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Iconic Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan has sent a message that one of the other openers has to be dropped.
Rizwan has been in dominant form as of late and Akhtar feels that he has successfully cemented his place at the top of the order.
He accumulated 128 runs in the three-match T20 series against New Zealand, which included a top score of 89, at an average of 42.66.
In the two-Test series that followed, he made 202 runs, which included three half-centuries, at an average of 50.50.
Rizwan maintained his form in the two-Test series against South Africa as he accumulated 166 runs, which included a career-best knock of 115 not out, at an average of 83.
The 28-year-old also finished as the highest run-scorer in the three-match T20 series against the Proteas with 197 runs, which included a career-best knock of 104 not out and a fifty, at an average of 98.50 and a strike-rate of 145.92.
In the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Rizwan was captaining the Multan Sultans before the tournament was postponed. Despite having the added pressure of leading his team, he is currently the highest run-scorer with 297 runs in five matches, which includes three half-centuries, at an average of 59.40 and a strike-rate of 140.09.
“Rizwan made full use of the opportunity to bat in the top order and he has made his place in the team. He has made a point that I am ready as an opener and now you have to drop one of the other openers,” Akhtar said on a show on PTV Sports as quoted by Cricket Pakistan.
Rizwan has been picked in Pakistan’s Test, ODI and T20 squads for the upcoming tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Pakistan will play three ODIs and four T20 Internationals against South Africa before heading to Zimbabwe for two Tests and three T20 Internationals.
Pakistan will depart for South Africa on March 26 and the tour will commence on April 2 and conclude on April 16. The ODI series will be played first.
The men in green will then head to Zimbabwe on April 17, but the dates for the matches have yet to be confirmed.
However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) noted that the national team will travel back to Lahore from Bulawayo on May 12.
Pakistan’s Test Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Imran Butt, Abid Ali, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Saud Shakeel, Agha Salman, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Tabish Khan, Hasan Ali, Shahnawaz Dhani, Nauman Ali, Zahid Mahmood, Sajid Khan.
Pakistan’s ODI Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali.
Pakistan’s T20 Squad: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Haider Ali, Danish Aziz, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Qadir, Hasan Ali, Arshad Iqbal.