Mohammad Rizwan’s first few innings in the County Championship didn’t quite go to plan, but technical inputs from Sussex teammate Cheteshwar Pujara have played a part in helping him find form.
Rizwan, who made his Championship debut this season, played his first game for Sussex alongside Pujara, another new recruit, against Derbyshire last month. While the wicketkeeper looked solid behind the stumps, taking four catches in his maiden game, an innings of 22 in his opening appearance was followed by underwhelming scores of 0 and 4 against Worcestershire.
However, not long after, Rizwan returned to his usual self against Durham, stroking a fine 79 in a 154-run partnership with double-centurion Pujara. He later said that Pujara, who himself has been in a rich vein of form, has given him insight on how to bat in England.
“He told me a few things,” Rizwan told cricwick. “It’s there for everyone to see that we’ve been playing white-ball cricket for a few years, and because of that, we play away from the body, we rarely play close to the body against the white ball. It swings and seams much less [than a red ball].
“Early on [in the Championship], I played away from the body and got out twice in similar fashion. Then he helped me: I approached him in the nets, asking if he had a solution for it. He said ‘When we play in Asia, we force ourselves to play the drive. Here, you don’t need to force at the ball’. Furthermore, [he told me] I should look to play closer to the body, since I had come [to the Championship] after playing white-ball cricket.
“So he told me these things. Apart from this, whatever he learnt from me, he’d be able to tell you!”
Rizwan heaped praise on Pujara, marvelling at his powers of concentration and placing him among the batters with the best focus in the game.
“In terms of concentration – I’ve said this to my coaches as well – in my life, the most concentration and focus I have seen in any player – one is Younis Khan, another is Fawad Alam, and also Cheteshwar Pujara – I rate these three very highly.”