Pakistan skipper Babar Azam has failed to justify the tag of No. 1 ODI batter in the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India.
Despite playing in batting-friendly conditions, the right-hander has registered scores of 5, 10, 50, 18, 74, 50 and 9 in seven innings. In particular, his below-par strike rate of 77.69 has drawn him criticism from fans and experts alike.
Recently, a video of former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi went viral on social media, in which he advised Babar to focus not only on his individual performance but also on the team's victory.
Afridi cited the examples of Indian batters like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, who dominate the opposition bowling attacks and take their team over the line.
"Scoring runs is one thing, but winning matches is another. Players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul not only score runs but also contribute with the ball and help their teams secure victories. I have talked to Babar Azam about this previously," Afridi said on Samaa TV.
"We often refer to Babar as a significant player, but it's essential for big players to deliver consistent performances and win matches for their team. While he may make it to the top, he also needs to excel and maintain his form. Observing Babar, it should be clear that when he steps onto the field, he has the potential to secure victories. However, I don't get the feeling that Babar will win you matches when he walks out to bat. The general feeling with Babar is that he will score 50-60 runs when he walks out to bat," he added.
Earlier, former Pakistan cricketer-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja questioned Babar Azam’s prowess against spin bowling.
Ramiz claimed that Babar doesn’t feel comfortable while facing spinners at the start of his innings. The Pakistan captain has been dismissed by the spinners five times in this World Cup. The likes of Colin Ackermann, Adam Zampa, Noor Ahmad, Tabraiz Shamsi and Mehidy Hasan Miraz have been able to take his wicket.
“If you want to find fault in his batting, it’s his batting against spin upfront when he starts the innings. He is not fluent as he is when he is facing pace. I don’t know whether it’s his footwork whether it’s in his mind, or whether he doesn’t have too many options because he doesn’t play the sweep shot. On slow pitches, you need to play the sweep shot,” Ramiz was quoted as saying to Star Sports.
“Every time he has been aggressive, he’s gotten out as well. Against Afghanistan, he hit a massive six and then got out just at the wrong time. So the confidence builds and it goes flat,” he further said.
“All he needs to do is work his way through to a hundred where he faces pace, spin, and feels comfortable about his role. He is not entirely out of touch, he is still middling the ball, but it’s that when he begins his innings against spin, he looks just a little bit jittery,” Ramiz added.
Babar Azam will be next seen in action against New Zealand in Bangalore on November 4.