Dubai: Pakistan batting coach Matthew Hayden has praised the opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, calling them unique.
The Australian legend should know – Hayden was a fixture in the top order in his 15-year international career, scoring 8,000 Test runs and more than 6,000 runs in ODIs.
“Babar and Rizwan have made a unique opening for themselves, where Pakistan have already made it to the semi-finals with four wins in four matches,” Hayden told AFP at the T20 World Cup.
“He is a very independent player with his style but this mix and blend makes the best combination.
“He is unique and it is special to see the way he has been playing in this World Cup. He chased the target of victory in pursuit of a great run against India, for a victory no one remembers Pakistan. Will stay
In 2021, captain Babar and wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan scored 826 runs in 14 T20 internationals.
They set an unbeaten 152-run stand – their third as an opening pair – as Pakistan beat India by 10 wickets in Dubai – their first win against their traditional rivals in 13 World Cup matches.
They once again teamed up for a 113-run stand to anchor Pakistan’s victory over Namibia in Abu Dhabi, becoming the first team to reach the semi-finals after four wins in as many games as possible.
“We support each other and although we are not a power hitter, our record is good,” Rizwan said after his man-of-the-match 79 not out against Namibia.
“If I get out early, he needs to anchor the innings. If he falls, I’m given the task of moving forward.”
Babar has three half-centuries in the World Cup and his only failure came against New Zealand when he was dismissed for just nine runs.
With 721 runs in 21 matches this year – Babar has regained the number one spot in the Twenty20 batsmen’s rankings.
Rizwan has scored 951 runs in the same number of matches this year.
Its average is 95.10. Rizwan is now fourth in the rankings.
“The whole team is impressed by Rizwan’s batting and it gives us confidence,” Babar said.
“His commitment and conviction is ideal and I enjoy his company on the crease.”
Ever since he was asked to open the Twenty20 innings in February, he has made the place his own.
As partners, they have a partnership of four centuries and a fifty.
However, there is a difference in the attitude of the two.
Babar looks more serious, suitable for under-pressure as a national captain.
Rizwan is chirping, sometimes smiling sadly as he walks back to the pavilion after being out.
While Babar was about to make an early start in the team, Rizwan had to spend his time.
Babar had support at home while Rizwan’s conservative family did not want him to play cricket.
Babar made his mark in two editions of the Under-19 World Cup in 2010 and 2012 – captaining Pakistan in the other.
Rizwan faced a real struggle to be selected, waiting five years for his chance after establishing himself as a famous first-class cricketer.
Once he replaced wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed at the end of 2019, he made the place his own, shining in all three formats with his best form in T20 cricket.
Now both Babar and Rizwan are the heart and soul of the Pakistani team as their goal is to win the second T20 World Cup title.