Image taken by: Bimal Mirwani
Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, has confirmed that Sarfaraz Ahmed will be his first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket over Mohammad Rizwan.
Rizwan had been the go-to man for the role for quite some time, but a string of disappointing performances led to him being removed from the playing XI.
Having been gifted an opportunity to resurrect his Test career, Sarfaraz made full use of it in the two-Test series against New Zealand from December 2022 to January 2023.
Sarfaraz finished with 335 runs, which included a century and three fifties, at an average of 83.75.
Following this, he featured in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka in July 2023, where he made 32 runs at an average of 16. However, he was replaced by Rizwan in the second Test in Colombo after being struck on the helmet. Rizwan ended up batting in the match and scored an unbeaten 50.
Despite not doing as well against Sri Lanka, Azam has made it clear that he will continue backing Sarfaraz.
“He will be my first choice [as wicketkeeper],” he was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-0 in that Test series and then went on to whitewash Afghanistan 3-0 in an ODI series.
Most recently, the men in green featured in the Asia Cup, where they beat Nepal by 238 runs before sharing one point apiece with India as their match was rained off.
Having managed to get through to the Super Four stage, Pakistan took down Bangladesh by seven wickets.
However, their campaign got completely derailed after this as they lost to India by 228 runs and Sri Lanka by two wickets via the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method (DLS) method, which led to them being knocked out of the tournament.
Azam finished with 207 runs in five matches, which included a top score of 151, at an average of 51.75.
As for Rizwan, he made 195 runs in five games, which included two fifties, at an average of 97.50.
Sarfaraz, meanwhile, was not included in the team.
Pakistan Squad for 2023 Asia Cup: Babar Azam (capt), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Haris (wk), Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Shahnawaz Dahani, Zaman Khan.
Travelling reserve: Tayyab Tahir