Comment: Rizwan takes Pakistan closer to dream finish at MCG.

WHEN Pakistan needed their champion, Mohammad Rizwan raised his hand. Punching, swiping and axe-cutting in the best tradition of Ijaz Ahmed, Rizwan extinguished New Zealand's hopes and in the process said, 'Hello, remember me?'

The national debate on Babar Azam's batting overlooked one major detail, and that was the influence of Rizwan on Pakistan's success in T20 cricket - as well as his effect on Babar.

Under the bright lights of Sydney, on a comfortably paced pitch, before a crowd packed with jubilant supporters, Pakistan waltzed into the final of this year's T20 World Cup. Rizwan, Pakistan's pocket rocket, led the charge to victory, quelling doubts about Pakistan's top order. Those doubts won't disappear with one performance, but when 'The Rizwan and Babar Show' is hitting its cues, Pakistan fans should always be ready to celebrate good times.

Rizwan is a perfectly orthodox batsman - that's how he first caught the eye - but he has adapted his game to play unorthodox shots perfectly.

The surprise is how confident and consistent he is in this abstract stroke making. From the first ball of the Pakistan innings, Rizwan was after New Zealand, aggression oozing from every swing of his blade, batting like he had already scored a hundred. Perhaps twenty overs behind the stumps sets Rizwan up perfectly for an innings.

It was some turnaround from the dithering strokeplay of Pakistan's last group game against Bangladesh, although Babar's start was still a sharp contrast to Rizwan's. The captain was dropped first ball by Devon Conway but that fortune and Rizwan's assertiveness pulled Babar back into the zone. By the end of his innings, we saw the Babar of old, killing them softly, caressing his team towards victory.

Their hundred partnership displayed a familiar rhythm: Rizwan forcing the pace early on, and Babar picking up the rate as the innings progressed and Rizwan eased off. The pair ran aggressively, and much of that was Rizwan helping his leader get re-established. New Zealand were unable to contain the prods and dashes that maintained Pakistan's momentum. This was a different opening partnership, aggressive in its run seeking, not one that was hanging in for a late charge.

Babar's return to form was significant, but it didn't settle the argument about his batting position. In recent times, Babar has scored most heavily in the middle overs and he did so again. But his stubborn streak is to be admired; without it he wouldn't be the world...

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