Sunday Jun 16, 2019
Babar Azam has been the best Pakistani batsman for the past couple of years, showing scintillating performances in white-ball cricket on a consistent basis.
Despite having such an asset batting at No.3, Pakistan’s performance as a team in one-day internationals has not been up to the mark.
Averaging 51.34 runs in ODI cricket, Babar Azam can be considered part of the elite club. But Babar has been unable to convert his brilliance into victories for his team, with Pakistan having last won an ODI series against the top five teams since 2013.
If we look at some of the best batters of the past five years—Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson or Joe Root—their stats are not different from Azam’s. But, more than their individual milestones, all of them have proved to be the X-factor in the success of their teams.
Every time we see Babar Azam getting a half-century or a century, he usually follows it with an unnecessary shot costing him his wicket.
Consider his stroke in the World Cup group match last week, when he lost his wicket lofting a leg-cutter from Adil Rashid. Or the needless uppercut into the hands of the deep-cover fielder in the pre-World Cup ODI against England.
Babar Azam needs to understand the value of his wicket to his team. Whatever one says—unnecessary shot selection or losing focus after a personal milestone—his current approach is definitely not helping the men-in-green achieve their desired results.
Like other great batsmen of the current era, he needs to understand that once he is well set, his task is not to score a hundred but to finish the game for his side. He has to stay on the wicket for the whole mile and guide his team towards victory.
Azam has to convert himself into a match-winner. He has to understand his role now, being the backbone of the batting line-up for the past couple of years, and he has to step up and take responsibility in difficult situations to get his team over the line.
The reason of writing this article is not to take the credit away from him for what he has done for Pakistan in the past couple of years. Azam is not only technically sound and one of the best in the business, he also has the potential to take his team to the finishing line single-handedly. Expectations are always high from such a talented batsman.