Pakistan faced a six-wicket defeat in their first T20I of the series against England on Tuesday. The Jos Buttler-led English side will be playing seven T20Is in Pakistan, as Babar Azam‘s men look for a strong comeback after the defeat in the final of the Asia Cup 2022 earlier this month. Pakistan had faced a 23-run defeat in the title clash against Sri Lanka, as questions were raised over the side’s batting order. While the lack of runs in the middle-order remains a primary concern for Pakistan side, the rate of run-scoring among openers Babar and Mohammad Rizwan was also questioned.
While Babar had a poor tournament overall, Rizwan was the highest run-scorer in the edition – however, his strike rate was merely 117.57 which led to former cricketers questioning his intent. Rizwan did make some amends in the first T20I against England where he scored a valiant 68 off 46 deliveries, but the middle-order failed to step up again as Pakistan scored 158/7 in 20 overs, eventually conceding a defeat with four balls to spare.
Rizwan’s consistent performances as an opener over the past few years had gradually sidelined Pakistan’s former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed from the team but multiple fans and former cricketers were hopeful for the veteran wicketkeeper’s return in the limited-overs formats. However, Pakistan continued to place their faith on a young Mohammad Haris in the backup role.
On an appearance in Pakistan’s television channel Geo Super, former Pakistan cricketer Sikander Bakht made a massive claim over Sarfaraz’s international future. Bakht revealed that Sarfaraz is not likely to represent Pakistan anymore, claiming that Rizwan has stated that he “won’t let him return.”
“Sarfaraz will not play now. Our cricket community is quite small, so we get to know a lot of things. A cricketer who does programmes with us told us that Rizwan said, “main Sarfaraz ko kabhi aane nahi dunga (I won’t let Sarfaraz return to Pakistan team). That’s because when Sarfaraz was there, he didn’t let Rizwan play. So now it’s the opposite. This is what I have heard. I might be wrong,” Bakht said.
Rizwan had made his debut for Pakistan in April 2015 during an ODI against Bangladesh, and cemented his place in the side after the 2019 World Cup.
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