Former England skipper Nasser Hussain has heaped praises on Pakistani middle-order batsman Babar Azam for his consistent performance with the bat in the last two years. Hussain said that Azam was as good a batsman as the Indian captain Virat Kohli. His comments came as Pakistan finished the rain-affected first day of the first Test match in Manchester at 139-2 with Babar Azam remaining unbeaten at 69.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Hussain said, “If this lad was Virat Kohli, everyone would be talking about it but because it is Babar Azam, no one is talking about it. He averages 68 since 2018 and 55 in white-ball cricket. He’s young, he’s elegant, he’s got all the swagger. They keep going on about the fab four, it’s the fab five and Babar Azam is in that.”
According to Hussain, Azam should be treated at par with the world’s top four batsmen namely Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root.
He said, “Pakistan have a world class batsman in Babar Azam.. It’s not only his stats but the way he gets them, how elegant a player he is. He plays through that offside beautifully, a lovely driver of the ball, good off the front foot and the back foot. He’s a very, very watchable young man, he really is. Outstanding player.”
England’s start was good as they struck two quick wickets reducing Pakistan to 45-2. But thanks to Azam’s gutsy innings that Pakistan were able to recover from early losses and lnow ook set to amass a decent total in their innings. At the end of the first day’s play, Azam was not out at 69, while Shan Masood was unbeaten at 46.
Reacting to the poor English bowling, Hussain said, “You’ve got a bloke in Babar Azam, who is their gun player, who was struggling before lunch, getting all squared up. That is when you go hard at him, you don’t run up and bowl little leg-stump clip ball four, leg-stump clip ball four, full toss four. That was poor.
“The rain came at the right time for England because they got that horribly wrong in that hour.”
Babar Azam has scored 1,427 runs since the start of 2018 at an average of 67.95. Nobody in the world has been able to score more Test runs at a higher average than Azam in this period.
Scores in brief:
First Test, Emirates Old Trafford (day one of five)
Pakistan 139-2 (49 overs): Babar 69*, Masood 46*, Woakes 1-14
England: Yet to bat