Cricket in Pakistan is more than just a sport; it's a passion that runs deep in the veins of millions of Pakistanis. Amid this cricket-crazy nation, Babar Azam's name has risen to prominence.
He is hailed as Pakistan's best batsman in recent years, but as with any emerging talent, questions of overhyping have also emerged. This article delves into the factors that make Babar Azam a remarkable cricketer and examines whether the praise heaped upon him is justified.
The Rise of Babar Azam
Babar Azam's cricketing journey began in the by-lanes of Lahore, Pakistan. He hails from a cricketing family and showed promise at a young age. His skillful batting technique, incredible timing, and composure under pressure quickly gained his attention.
Babar made his international debut for Pakistan in 2015 and gradually established himself as a reliable middle-order batsman. His meteoric rise continued, and he became the captain of Pakistan's T20 side in 2019, subsequently taking over the ODI captaincy in 2020.
His appointment as captain, especially in the T20 format, underscored the team's belief in his potential to be a leader. But the real question is, is he Pakistan's best batsman, or is he overhyped? Cricket betting sites have all kinds of odds with them.
Babar Azam's Strengths
Babar Azam possesses a set of qualities that make him stand out. First and foremost is his impeccable batting technique. He is often compared to contemporary greats like Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, and rightfully so.
His classical style, exquisite cover drives, and ability to adapt to different formats are his strong suits.
In ODIs, Babar has been a consistent performer. His ability to anchor the innings while keeping the scoreboard ticking has been vital for Pakistan.
He has registered several centuries and played many match-winning innings, often as a sheet anchor. In T20 cricket, Babar's adaptability is evident.
He can shift gears seamlessly, combining textbook strokes with innovative shots, and remains one of the most sought-after T20 players globally. His T20I average and strike rate are testimony to his consistency and power.
Moreover, his captaincy has displayed his ability to lead by example. He is not the most vocal captain, but his calm and composed demeanour on the field can reassure the team.
His performance as a captain may have been better than his batting, but it is too early to make a final judgment.
Comparisons with Past Legends
Babar Azam's entry into the echelons of great Pakistani batsmen has sparked comparisons with legends like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad, and Mohammad Yousuf.
While these comparisons are inevitable in cricket-mad Pakistan, it is essential to remember that each era is unique, and the challenges and conditions faced by players vary. Inzamam-ul-Haq, for instance, was a powerhouse of raw talent and had a unique and unmatched style.
Javed Miandad was known for his street-smart cricket, and Mohammad Yousuf was a run machine in his prime. Babar Azam's strength lies in his adaptability and ability to thrive in all formats, making direct comparisons difficult.
Is Babar Azam Overhyped?
The question of whether Babar Azam is overhyped is subjective. The expectations surrounding him are high, but they are not unfounded. His consistent performances, both in international and domestic cricket, warrant the praise he receives.
Critics may argue that he hasn't consistently converted starts into big hundreds, which is a valid point.
However, every batsman goes through phases, and Babar is no exception. He is still young in his career and has time to mature and improve in this aspect.
It's important to acknowledge that cricket is a team sport; a captain or player can only do so much. The expectations of single-handedly winning matches for Pakistan might be a tad unrealistic, and Babar Azam alone cannot carry the team to victory every time.