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Consistent Babar Azam Conquers Test Cricket Too, Wants to Emulate Kohli

Consistency across formats at the international stage is the toughest task for cricketers, be it batsmen or bowlers. Pakistan's Babar Azam is one of the rare cricketers to be able to achieve that.

Cricketnext Staff |December 16, 2019, 7:29 PM IST
Consistent Babar Azam Conquers Test Cricket Too, Wants to Emulate Kohli

Consistency across formats at the international stage is the toughest task for cricketers, be it batsmen or bowlers. Pakistan's Babar Azam is one of the rare cricketers to be able to achieve that.

The ICC rankings for batsmen is proof of Babar's versatility. He's ranked No. 1 in T20Is, No. 3 in ODIs and has now broken into the top 10 in Tests, where he is currently stationed at No. 9. Expect that to only improve in the coming years.

Here's a trivia to show how difficult it is to excel across all three formats: only one other batsman has managed to be in the top 10 of all formats, and that's Virat Kohli. No wonders then that Babar is often compared to the Indian captain.

Babar himself doesn't take such comparisons seriously, but says he wants to get there some day.

"Look he (Kohli) has already achieved a lot. He is a legend in his country. Honestly there is no comparison with me right now but eventually I also want to get where he is today," he said.

"The media and people have drawn comparisons between me and Virat Kohli but I realise that I still need to get more runs in red ball cricket to be ranked among the top players. That is why in recent months I have been focusing a lot on getting consistent scores in Test matches.

"I don't feel any pressure if anyone compares me with Kohli or (Steve) Smith. I am now more focused on my batting and I spend hours watching videos of my innings. I catch my mistakes and then I try to ensure I don't commit them again the next time."

Babar averages more than 50 in T20Is and ODIs, having played 100 matches combined in both the formats. He was at his absolute best in the World Cup this year, scoring 474 runs from 8 innings with one century and three half-centuries. His consistency was rewarded with captaincy in the T20 format in October this year.

In comparison, Test cricket has been slightly more different for Babar. He began with a 69 and a 90* within his first five Test innings, making his debut in October 2016. However, consistency evaded him in his first phase of Test cricket.

Babar took 32 innings for his maiden Test ton, which came against New Zealand in Dubai last November. Since then, though, he has been in much better form; he scored two half-centuries in three Tests in South Africa, and went to Australia last month as a serious threat. Such was his form that he dominated all talks in the Australian press, with even Ricky Ponting suggesting tips on how to negate the Babar threat.

Babar didn't disappoint, scoring 104 in the second innings in Adelaide and following it up  with a 97 in the pink-ball Test in Brisbane. Both came in losing causes but Babar stood tall above his team.

Back in Pakistan, Babar scored 102* in his first Test in his home country, against Sri Lanka last week.

"When I got out cheaply to a bad shot in the first innings at Brisbane, I was very cross with myself because I realised no top batman should get out like that. In the following innings I made it a point to be patient and build my innings although playing strokes comes naturally to me," he explained.

"Someday I am looking at a triple century. You need to set yourself goals as all top players do. I have set myself the target of becoming consistent in test cricket as well.

The latest ranking is another feather in Babar's cap, showing he has upped his game in Test cricket too, where he averages just below 40. Babar says white-ball batting comes naturally to him, but stresses he has learnt the tricks of red-ball cricket now. Expect the numbers to only improve.

"I was not sure about myself," he said talking about the initial stages. "But things improved with time. Now I am relishing the challenge of playing red ball cricket. I have learnt the virtues of patience. White ball cricket, I think, comes more naturally for me."

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2 New Zealand 3241 112
3 South Africa 3177 102
4 England 4593 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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1 England 6745 125
2 India 7364 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
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