2021 has been a breakout year for Mohammad Rizwan in T20I cricket. The three-match series against England has finally provided him with some much-needed recognition. Rizwan finished as the highest run-scorer in the T20I series as he scored 176 runs in three games. He scored these runs at an average of 88 and a strike rate of 138.58.
However, 2020 was not as memorable for Mohammad Rizwan. Even though he was Pakistan's first-choice keeper in all formats, he did not manage to get a slot in his Pakistan Super League side. Rizwan represented the Karachi Kings in the PSL, but was selected in the playing eleven in only one match, in which he did not get an opportunity to bat.
Although Karachi won the 2020 season title, Rizwan was highly disappointed by his surprise exclusion from the side. He joined the Multan Sultans and was appointed as their captain ahead of the 2021 season. He made his mark in the very first game as he was named man of the match for his brilliant innings of 71 runs. This knock was just the start for Rizwan in what would be an amazing 2021 season.
He finished as the second-highest run scorer with 500 runs in the 2021 season of the PSL. He was great as a leader too as he helped the Multan Sultans win their first PSL title. The real secret behind the change in Rizwan's fortune, though, was the change in his batting position.
Just as in the case of Rohit Sharma, Rizwan too was not very successful in the middle order. However, ever since his promotion to the opening spot there has been no looking back.
Mohammad Rizwan has outperformed Babar Azam in 2021
Babar Azam is the second-highest ranked batsman in the ICC T20I rankings. He has been the backbone of Pakistan's batting line-up for the last 2-3 years. Mohammad Rizwan, however, has managed to outperform his captain as well. Babar has scored 472 runs in 13 innings in 2021 while Rizwan has scored 706 runs in the same number of innings.
Often people think that a batsman scoring too many runs could just be a stat padder. However, this is not true in Rizwan's case. His strike rate of 140.92 in international cricket in 2021 speaks volumes about his ability. He does not just score big runs but also scores them at a rate which would damage the opponent's chances in the game.
Rizwan has scored seven fifties and one hundred in the thirteen innings he has played this year. This is an incredible record for any batsman. He has shown composure to play a slow innings when needed and the attacking ability to score quick runs when required. Mohammad Rizwan has now emerged as Pakistan's most dependable batsman in T20I cricket.
He got his first opportunity to open the innings in the series against New Zealand in 2020 and showed he has the potential to do well at the top of the order. In his next series against South Africa, Rizwan was selected as the man of the series. He scored 197 runs in three innings when South Africa toured Pakistan.
There has been no looking back for Rizwan since then and he has become one of Pakistan's best T20I players. After the T20 series against England he has now risen to the number seven spot in the ICC T20I rankings for batsmen. This is his career-best T20I ranking.
Despite his brilliant performance in the T20I series against England, Pakistan lost the series 2-1. The series stood level at 1-1 after the first two matches and the last match was the decider. Pakistan were sent in to bat first, and Rizwan scored an unbeaten 76 to guide them to a total of 154 runs. England were cruising for a large part of the run chase but chaos towards the endt that they won the match by three wickets with only two balls to spare.