Pakistan Head Coach Mickey Arthur has praised top-order batsman Babar Azam’s and hoped that he would end up in top-five modern great batsmen in all forms of cricket very soon.
Azam played a great knock of 90 runs in the second T20I against South Africa in Johannesburg — an innings which was full of class and confidence.
Talking to media after the match, Arthur said: “I think he will be in the top five [batsmen] of the world very soon across all formats. I thought I was a bit quick off the gun when I said two years ago that he would be almost as good as Virat Kohli but it has taken him a while to show that class. But if you watched him in the nets couple of years ago, he was a young boy who has developed into a young man, he’s got stronger and fitter and his game gets better and better all the time.”
Arthur also thinks that the best of Azam is yet to come and he is only going to improve in the future.
“I have never doubted Babar Azam, he keeps on getting better and better and the exciting thing for us is that we haven’t seen the best of Azam yet,” he said.
“He has been unbelievable on this tour. There have been question marks around Azam outside the sub-continent but I think he’s put those to rest now.”
Commenting on Pakistan’s first series defeat in T20Is since 2016, the 50-year-old thinks that South Africa bowled better in last 10 overs which made the difference.
“They bowled the second 10 overs better than the first 10, they took the pace off but yes, for a neutral these have been two good games but for us they haven’t been that good at all,” he said.
The coach also criticised bowlers for below par performance in the game which cost them the series.
“To be brutally honest with ourselves, I thought we batted exceptionally well but we bowled very poorly today. As a unit, apart from Imad Wasim who was obviously outstanding, the rest of the bowling unit was poor,” he said.
“That is something we will have to look at; we didn’t execute well; I think there were 64 runs scored off short deliveries although our game plan was full strength wicket to wicket so 64 runs [off short balls] was not good enough from them. The execution in the last over was particularly poor.”
After third T20I in Centurion on February 6, the Men in Green will play five-match ODI series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Earlier, Babar Azam was a picture of beautifully measured batting violence but his team mates somehow contrived to lose a game that should have been easily won.
They faltered to a seven-run defeat that only Pakistan can muster after David Miller’s late onslaught helped South Africa to post 188/3.
Babar cared less about what his partners did and drilled boundary after boundary. There were nine of them when he crossed 50 in only 34 balls and batted with an ease that drove the errant South African bowling to distraction.
He caned everyone bar the economical debutant Lutho Sipamla, who put the brakes on Pakistan’s fast start. Every other bowler was put through the wringer as Pakistan raced to 63/1 five overs and 70/1 after the six-over power-play period.
The pressure was slightly released when Pakistan were 101/1 after 10 overs but Hussain Talat (55), who batted well, inexplicably starved Babar of the strike and soaked up valuable balls.
Just when he was set to score a century, Hendricks pinned him for 90 that was scored in 58 balls with 13 fours and a six.
Here’s how Cricket World hailed Babar Azam:
Shoaib Malik: “Babar Azam is a class player. If you are playing on good pitches and against good bowling attacks you have to play proper cricketing shots and that’s what he did”
Makhaya Ntini regarding Babar Azam: “Wow, Wow. What a player. The timing is perfect”
Makhaya Ntini regarding Babar Azam “Wow, Wow. What a player. The timing is perfect” #SAvPAK
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) February 3, 2019
Herschelle Gibbs: Serious player this babar azam…been impressed with him whole tour.
Serious player this babar azam…been impressed with him whole tour👏👏
— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) February 3, 2019