Mohammad Rizwan made his maiden Test hundred in the 2nd Test against South Africa – and it was a moment of joy for the entire dressing room.
7th Feb 2021, second ball of the 96th over of Pakistan’s second innings at Pindi against the mighty South Africa. But are they mighty enough? Only those are capable of arguing who troll the batsman who played the aforementioned delivery, and they still want to be stubborn about his cricketing ability. You want to mix the quality of the visiting T20 side with the quality of their Test side. You conveniently want to overlook his gritty performances in Australia, England, and New Zealand on away tours, or you want to discredit the likes of Rabada, Nortje, and Ngidi – that they cannot be potent in sub-continent conditions.
But let’s get back to the aforementioned delivery again. Mohammad Rizwan takes a single and finally reaches his maiden Test hundred, looks up to the sky, says a little prayer, shakes hands with the non-striker, and goes on with the job again. The job he has been doing for years. He comes out and proves everyone wrong with gloves on, behind and in front of the three wooden sticks on either side of the pitch.
The dressing room erupts, stands, and shouts for the guy who they know has given it everything despite some critics trying to pull him down each day. He’s the lead star of the social media meme committee, but he has survived the grind. He has survived the competition he had with the former captain/wicket-keeper, and he has come ahead in the race. The race that was purely on the field. What it meant off the field is that it was more than just runs; it was a moment, a moment that showed multiple signs.
The way the players in the dressing room flared up for the guy showed how each one in this team is secure enough to enjoy the success of the other. The guy who was at the non-striker’s end when the mighty Fawad looked up to the sky after a century after a gap of ten years as he hugged him to flow his emotions away. Maybe he wanted to cry; he could have, he was hugging a friend.
There was the batting coach who was standing on a chair to applaud the innings – the same guy who faced a group swearing on the Holy Book to remove him from leadership in his playing days. From hitting each other with cricket bats to tweeting heartily on small achievements of each other to being so excited about picking your friend for your franchise that you take the mic from the presenter and request to announce the name to the world yourself… to enjoying the reunion of the roti gang, without the insecurity that one has to play under the captaincy of the other.
There’s an ex-captain in the squad who hardly gets game time but grinds hard in training and rejoices upon the success of the guy he needs to replace to get a go. He probably gets the most credit for this unity, brotherhood, and secure attitude that made a former coach rate him higher than Graeme Smith because of his off-the-field Big Brother persona. He is carrying drinks and passing on his experience without a fuss.
Ideally, that should be normal, but here we are talking about a Pakistani dressing room that has stories of legends stepping on each other for fun when in power. This team might lose a few, and they might win a few, but they stick together, and they pick each other up. And that shows – because you can go all nostalgic about the mythical mighty 90s – the truth remains that the mighty 90s comprised of individual brilliance. However, cricket – on any day, at any moment – is a team’s game.