Babar Azam, the newly-appointed captain of Pakistan’s T20 side is looking forward to his first big assignment – the tour of Australia – and explained how he wishes to learn from two of the best skippers in international cricket – New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli of India.
Williamson and Kohli led their teams to the World Cup 2019 semifinal and Babar, who replaces Sarfraz Ahmed at the post, said he’d like to emulate the two. Besides, Kohli and Williamson are two of the most effective No. 3 in ODIs. Kohli averages an impressive 63.34 with 9185 runs at that slot but Williamson isn’t too far behind at 51.29 with a tally of 5233. Both have emerged as the batting pillars of their respective sides.
In Pakistan’s last T20I assignment, in which Babar was Sarfraz’s deputy, they were whitewashed 0-3 by Sri Lanka, a series where the batsman himself managed 43 runs. Dismissing concerns of the task of captaincy affecting his batting, Babar said he intends to continue playing the way he always has.
“People judged in three matches [against Sri Lanka] that my performance suffered because I was vice-captain,” Babar said. “That’s not how it works. In the game of cricket, you have ups and downs, and that was a poor series for us, no question. I give 120% for the team in every single match, and I don’t see why there would be any added pressure on me just because I’m captain. I’ll continue to play as I always have, and I’m sure the performances will come.
“Moreover, I’m not just thinking I’ll be happy to play regardless of the results. I’m looking to get a performance out of my team, as well as my individual performances. I look at current captains like Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli, and how well they manage their own form along with bringing results to the team. I’ll try to emulate them.”
Babar, 24, is considered one of the best young batsmen in the world, averaging over 50 in ODIs. In T20Is, it’s just a shade under 50 but with 1290 runs in 33 matches, there’s plenty more to be desired from him. Unlike ODIs, where he bats at No.3, Babar opens the batting in T20Is and wishes to continue at the top.
“There are players in our team who have continued to perform. I don’t think they should be kicked out of the side just because they haven’t been able to hit those heights for four or five games. We should back them. If you look at Fakhar Zaman’s innings in the T20 Cup against my side [he scored an unbeaten 82 off 54 to help KP beat Central Punjab by 7 wickets], you can see he’s beginning to return to form. You could see the improvement in Shadab [Khan]’s bowling, too.
“These guys know better than anyone they haven’t been able to deliver at the level that’s expected of them, but you can see they are returning to form. Fakhar and I will open, and Imam-ul-Haq will be the back-up opener, and I’m sure he’ll be ready to take over when necessary.”