Babar Azam will hog most of the headlines after Pakistan’s remarkable fourth innings escape and rightly so. His 196 instantly ranks among the greats; it was an innings that befitted his immense talent.
But it was not a one-man effort. Abdullah Shafique’s obdurate 96 and Mohammad Rizwan’s century from No.6 were pivotal knocks in their own right, ones that meant that Babar’s own heroics weren’t in vain.
For Rizwan, it was an innings that confirmed his status as one of the game’s most complete all-format cricketers and among wicketkeeper-batters, following the Test retirement of Quinton de Kock, only Rishabh Pant rivals him in that regard.
On the fifth day at Karachi, Rizwan became just the eight wicketkeeper in the history of the game to score a fourth innings hundred, joining an illustrious list that includes Pant, Adam Gilchrist, AB de Villiers, Matt Prior and Mushfiqur Rahim.
After his hundred, Rizwan’s Test batting average stands at 46.29, a figure that rises to 47.73 when only Tests where he has donned the gloves are taken into account. Of wicketkeepers to have hit more than than 1,000 Test runs, only Andy Flower and AB de Villiers average more.
Though 29, Rizwan is still a relatively inexperienced cross-format cricketer – the Karachi Test was just his 21st in the format – but he has quickly established himself as one of the most complete all-format players in the world.
His T20I record is even more impressive than his Test output. Remarkably, Rizwan averages over 50 in the format. The only T20I batter who has more runs at a better average than Rizwan is Virat Kohli. His 2021 T20I tally of 1,326 runs is by some distance the most T20I runs scored in a calendar year. Across 26 innings in the format in 2021, he passed 50 on 13 occasions and was instrumental in Pakistan’s run to the T20 World Cup final.
While ODI cricket has yet to be as kind to Rizwan – he currently averages less than 30 in the format – it feels like it’s only a matter of time before he cracks that, too. After all, only a handful of players boast T20I and Test records as impressive as Rizwan. Well over half of his ODI appearances came before Rizwan’s reintroduction into the Pakistan set-up in 2019, and that year demonstrated his potential to nail 50-over cricket: he averaged 49.00, hitting both his hundreds in the format.
With time on his side, and an excellent Pakistan batting unit forming above him, Rizwan could end with a very special career to his name.