Pakistan coach Misbah-ul-Haq reckons Mohammad Rizwan's sparkling knock in the third T20I against New Zealand is a significant stepping stone in the wicketkeeper's career and bodes well for the team's upcoming Test assignment.
After losing two T20Is on the trot due to some ordinary top-order batting, Pakistan rode on the profound success of Rizwan to masterfully chase down the daunting 174-run target.
Having been given the big shoes of Babar Azam to fill in the opening slot, Rizwan crafted a magnificent innings embodied by remarkable poise.
Rizwan had copped a lot of criticism for his flop shows in the preceding two T20Is despite batting in an unfamiliar spot for Pakistan.
Braving past the overall context of his fickle position in the T20I set-up and the forthcoming Tests, Rizwan's standout performance impressed Misbah.
"I am happy with the performance of Mohammad Rizwan. He was under pressure but he played exceptionally and I am really pleased with his effort. Hopefully, we can take this confidence into the Test series," he told reporters in the post-match press conference.
"Obviously, he's been doing very well in the Test format. This performance will go a long way and help the Pakistan team."
Apart from Rizwan's morale-boosting outing, Misbah emphasised on how much the four-wicket consolation win meant to the tourists.
"It was a good win and a much-needed win to regain our confidence. Everybody contributed, the bowlers did a wonderful job and Hafeez was excellent throughout this series."
While offering a preview of the two-match Test series, Misbah focused on the practice time given to his team before the red-ball encounters compared to the T20Is.
He reflected on the difficulties involved in getting ready for the T20I series – an issue he has talked about before as well – since Pakistan had their exemption to train revoked by the health authorities.
In contrast, several of Pakistan's first-choice Test players have had the opportunity to play a first-class match against New Zealand A ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Mount Maunganui.
"It was obviously a tough series [T20Is] for us in terms of preparations, the way we just came here and got 6 days to prepare for this competitive cricket. It was a bit tough on the guys but they responded well and tried their level best."
"The win is very encouraging going into the Test series, which we know in these conditions is going to be a stern test for us. With Pakistan Shaheens winning the four-day game and the guys here winning the last T20I, this gives us self-belief," he added.
Notwithstanding the preparation time, Pakistan find themselves on the backfoot as captain Babar Azam will not be playing the first Test.
Doubts linger over Babar's recovery ahead of the second Test but Misbah provided a positive update regarding the state of his injury.
"Today, he started gripping the bat and played a few balls with the tennis ball, let's see how his progress goes," Misbah mentioned. "You cannot say anything before time but I hope he just gets better and better in the coming 5-6 days and then during the Test match. If he can get ready for the second Test, that will be great for us."