Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has conceded he was quick off the gun when he had predicted a couple of years ago that Babar Azam would reach Virat Kohli’s level but expects the 24-year-old batsman to be among the top five batsmen across all formats “very soon”.
Mickey Arthur pointed out that Babar is getting fitter and his game is improving with every passing day. The Pakistan coach’s comments come even as Babar is performing consistently in the ongoing limited-over series against South Africa in the Rainbow Nation.
In a must-win T20I match for Pakistan against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday, Babar hit a classy 90 but it wasn’t enough to help his side stop the hosts from taking a 2-0 unbeatable lead in the three-match T20I series.
Babar has been one of the mainstays of Pakistan’s limited-over set up in the last few years. He averages in excess of 50 in both ODIs and T20Is.
“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,” Arthur was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.
He added: “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 pointed out that Babar has silenced critics who were questioning him about his performances away from home over the years. Babar is on top of the scorer’s list in the ongoing T20I series with 128 runs from two innings and had scored 195 runs from five matches in the ODI series.
Babar also finished among the top three in the Test series, scoring 221 runs in three matches, including a couple of half-centuries.
“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 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.”