Kannur: The story of C P Rizwan, who on Friday became the first Keralite to score a One-Day International (ODI) century representing any country, bears testimony to the fact that if you strive hard and stay focussed, you will ultimately realise your dreams.
The 32-year-old hailing from Thalassery, the cradle of cricket in Kerala, never gave up and never lost hope, even when his career hit a roadblock.
Growing up at Saidar Pally, a small village near Thalassery, Rizwan's childhood mostly revolved around playing cricket with his friends in the locality. The youngster was gifted with the qualities that make a batsman successful at the top level and had the potential to become a future star.
He went on to represent Kerala in the junior levels and captained the U-25 state team. Although his performance in age-group categories was rewarded with a place in the senior side which included the likes of Sanju Samson and Sachin Baby, he was never given a chance in the playing eleven.
As it was frustrating sitting on the bench, he moved to the UAE in 2014 and landed a job in Sharjah. He continued to play cricket there and was able to catch the attention of the local cricket fraternity with consistent performances in domestic tournaments. In 2018, Rizwan completed the four years required for him to be eligible to play for the UAE and was duly included in the national team.
An electrical engineering graduate from the Cochin University of Science and Technology, Rizwan made his debut for the UAE on January 26, 2019, in an ODI against Nepal. The Emirates Cricket Board offered him a one-year central contract last month in recognition of his excellent batting against the USA and Zimbabwe. Apart from him, two other Keralites - Basil Hameed and Alishan Sharafu - also made it to the squad.
On Friday, Rizwan made history when he guided the UAE to a six-wicket win over Ireland in the first ODI of the four-match series in Abu Dhabi by scoring 109 off 136 balls. The splendid knock, which earned him the man-of-the-match award, was laced with nine boundaries and a six. He shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 184 with Lahore-born Muhammed Usman, who made an unbeaten 102, and made short work of the 269-run target set by Ireland.
Born on April 19, 1988, to M P Abdul Rouf and C P Nasreen of Poovathankandy, Rizwan studied at the St Joseph's Higher Secondary School in Thalassery and played for the local Students Cricket Club and the Kochi-based Cordiant Sports Foundation in his formative years.
The right-hander, who bats at No. 3, has so far scored 288 runs from 10 ODIs at an average of 32.
He is currently employed with the Eastern International LLC in Sharjah.