Babar Azam has termed Virat Kohli as the No.1 batsman in the World right now and rubbished Micky Arthur’s comparison with the Indian skipper as the latter's personal opinion. Azam has also advised the youngsters to never compromise on their cricket and keep their fitness levels quite high.
Pakistan's search for a dependable No.3 in the shorter formats has been an eternal one and the arrival of Babar Azam onto the big stage came as a blessing for the Asian country. He didn’t take long to establish himself as the best batsman in the side and became the second quickest after Quinton De Kock to score five ODI tons. His aggregate of 1306 runs after 25 innings was the highest for any batsman, beating Jonathan Trott's record. All those accomplishments at the start of his career forced the Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur to compare him with the Indian skipper, but Azam has stated that he is nowhere near Kohli and termed the 28-year-old as a “very big player”.
“He compared me with a very big player. I think it shouldn't be done. But that is the coach's thinking. Maybe the stats at the start of our careers are similar, but he is the No. 1 batsman in the world. I want to perform at a high level for Pakistan too,” the 23-year-old told ESPN Cricinfo.
He quickly added that he follows Kohli a lot now. “I loved watching AB de Villiers in the early days. I used to follow him closely. I copied him a lot too. In the nets, I used to at least try some of the shots he played in the matches. Nowadays I follow Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, and of course, de Villiers,” Azam said.
Ever since he was drafted into the Pakistan under-19 team for the 2010 World Cup as a 15-year old, he was unleashed as a child prodigy and after some polishing, he piled the runs to be the top run-getter for his team in another under-19 World Cup campaign in 2012.
On being asked about if he was using any lessons from those days, the former Pakistan U-19 skipper replied, “I certainly do. I played two World Cups in New Zealand and Australia. I learned a lot from those two tournaments. I still love playing in those countries, enjoy my batting there. You learn about wickets there, so it gives you confidence when you go there to play international cricket. Ijaz
As much as Babar’s unbelievable talent has been highlighted, his strong work ethic and focus on his fitness regime also played a big role in his rise as a cricketer. He also advised the youngsters to bring a focused nature to their game and said that it will ultimately reap rich dividends.
“I would say, never compromise on your cricket. The more time you give to the ground, the more it will give back to you. Keep an eye on your fitness and give your 100% in matches. Stay focused,” Azam concluded.