“I relish the fact I am considered one of the main players of the team,” says vice-captain
However, with Azam opening besides him, there have been concerns Pakistan lack natural firepower at the top, especially with the Pakistan captain struggling to tee off despite formidable numbers as an accumulator. His strike rate sits at 128.26, and with Fakhar Zaman, Sharjeel Khan and Sohaib Maqsood all available to the side, there are questions about how exactly Pakistan intend to take advantage of their big-hitting prowess.
“We don’t have any issue in the top order. We’re all settled in our positions, and the only problems we had were in our middle order. If you look at Maqsood in the Karachi leg, he played lower down, and he plays lower down in domestic cricket too. The calibre of player he is, he can easily adjust to any position. When it comes to me or Babar changing our position for the sake of the team, we will of course be ready to sacrifice.”
Rizwan also dismissed suggestions he was angling after the captaincy in any format, praising Azam as a “world-class skipper”, and saying he simply enjoyed the feeling of being considered a valuable player in the current side.
“I don’t think about captaincy, because my job is to focus as a player,” he said. “I have never been desperate for captaincy. I’m the vice-captain, and whenever the captain needs help, I am happy to do it. Babar is one of the leading captains right now, and if you look at our past series, he’s made some brilliant decisions. Even if three or four players put our heads together, his clarity of thought rose above it all.
“I don’t feel pressure this way, and I enjoy my importance to the team. I relish the fact I am considered one of the main players of the team.”
Rizwan backed his side to give a good account of themselves in England, a place he believes Pakistan tend to play well. “We have played well in England over history. “We have won home and away off late so we go in with a lot of confidence. If you look at the touch our top players are going into this series with, we’ll plug our weaknesses and you’ll find a very different side in a good way. It’ll be a good contest because our morale is very high too.”
Pakistan play three ODIs starting at Sophia Gardens on July 8, before competing in as many T20Is, with the first taking place at Trent Bridge on July 16.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000