Pakistan skipper Babar Azam is one of the best batters in world cricket at the moment and his form is improving with each passing game. But, will he be able to sustain his form and take his team to heights that no one ever imagined in world cricket?
Over the years, cricket has evolved rather rapidly and a major reason behind it is T20 cricket. The dynamics of the game have changed and so have batting styles. In white-ball cricket, a strike rate below 100 is considered to be poor and batters which is a complete contrast from the days when greats like Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Yousuf, and others used to play.
However, now with the more fast-paced approach from batters the game has gone far ahead. It is often said that it is a batters game and bowlers have little chance. But in my humble opinion, it is not easy for batters to score over a strike rate of 100 consistently and it requires a lot of skill and practice to achieve it. It also gives bowlers all the more chance to dismiss batters as risk-taking shots are something that is seen more often. The other aspect of batting that has a very fine line is what brings out the difference between a good batter and a great batter. A player like AB de Villiers comes once in a generation or a century who has literally all the shots in the book and even those that weren't on it.
The others who are not as gifted as him have started playing shots that are risky but the chances of them coming off remain 50-50. So, the impact that they have on the game evens out and even fades as teams start to figure out the technical flaws in their game. That puts them in the good batters category.
When we talk about greats, in the modern-day era, there are very few batters who have done well across formats. One name that comes to mind instantly is Virat Kohli. Kohli has shown the class and temperament that is needed to become one of the greatest batters of this generation. The former Indian captain has shown the ability to chase games and has even batted for long hours in Test cricket to put the Indian team on top. So, when any young batter starts doing well he is instantly compared with Virat Kohli.
Pakistan cricket team has not had much to show for in the last decade barring the victory in the final of the champions trophy in 2017. But, they have a batter who much like Virat Kohli gets a rock star-like thunderous ovation when he walks out to bat in his country that is Babar Azam. Fans cheer the batter from the moment he steps out and walks towards the crease to take his guard. Babar Azam has often been compared to Virat Kohli and that's bound to happen as much-like Virat Kohli, Azam too hits boundaries through the cover region with pure timing and little power behind his strokes. Another similarity is the fact that he can also accelerate just like Kohli has done in the early phase of his career.
Babar Azam's form in ODI cricket has become the talk of the town. The consistency with which the Pakistan captain is scoring runs is quite brilliant. The interesting thing here is the fact that Babar Azam has left Virat Kohli behind when it comes to comparing the averages between the two batters. Azam is averaging 60.01 as of now which is more than Kohli's 58.07. While people can debate the fact that Azam has played way lesser games than Kohli but even then, the impact that the Pakistan captain is having on the game is simply incredible.
Coming to Test cricket, Babar Azam has once again statistics that show that he is a complete batter with the ability to do well in the longest format of the game. The right-handed batter has so far featured in 40 games and has scored 2,851 runs averaging 45.98. However, the batter played one of the very best innings of his career when he scored a gritty 196 against visitors Australia in the fourth innings of the second Test match.
Babar Azam's performance in that game proved that the young Pakistan skipper has the game and mindset that is required to exceed at the highest level. This is what will separate him from good and great and with him doing well in Test cricket he is already on the right path.
Getting the captaincy of the Pakistan cricket team across formats is another feather in his cap which will only make him grow more as a cricketer. Azam bats with more responsibility now and is consistently converting his fifties into hundreds which leaves a massive impact on the result of the match for his team. Since the series against Australia, Babar Azam has shown maturity as a batter and it is also becoming more visible that the youngster has a better understanding of the game.
The right-handed batter has to understand that his form and run-scoring ability is the key to Pakistan's success in the coming years. So, in my opinion, Babar Azam will want to make the most of his purple patch and take his team to greater heights in the coming years in every format of the game.