The last decade of Test cricket has seen the rise of a ‘Fab Four’, but the question doing the rounds in recent times is whether Pakistan cricketer Babar Azam should also be included in this hall of fame. The ‘Fab Four’ includes Virat Kohli (India), Kane Williamson (New Zealand), Steve Smith (Australia) and Joe Root (England). These players are modern-day greats and the kingpins of international cricket, but the quartet seems to have a new company now in the form of Babar.
At just 25, Babar has become an absolute superstar of Pakistan cricket and was recently named as the white-ball captain of his country. It’s not just limited-overs cricket where he has tasted success, but Babar has scored 1449 runs in the last two years at an average of 63 in Tests, with only Marnus Labuschagne having scored more runs at a higher average than him.
Babar is known for his supreme elegance and the way he makes batting look easy. His trademark cover drive can be watched on repeat all day and if somebody was giving points for style, Babar would be right up there in a class of his own. Former England captain Nasser Hussain has called for the ‘Fab four’ to change to ‘Fab Five’ in cricket and to include Babar in it.
The Pakistan cricketer has all the traits to be hailed as a modern great. His numbers in white-ball cricket are exceptional, averaging 54.17 in ODI cricket and 50.72 in T20I cricket. Some would argue that there’s still a Fab Four and Babar has taken Root’s spot, with the England captain being below par in the past couple of years with the bat. He is averaging below 40 and has scored just four centuries in the last two years in Test cricket. Meanwhile, Babar has played 30 innings less than the England captain and has already notched up 5 centuries.
Strike rate isn’t the most important criteria in Test match batting but if you take a look at Babar’s statistics, he has a strike rate of 62.94 and is the fourth-highest in the list with 1000 Test runs or more in the past two years. That gives you the indication of the pace at which he bats and the way he counter-attacks the opposition bowling. His runs hurt the opposition dearly and he can be a match-winner with these stats.
The only thing which has gone against Babar is that out of his five Test hundreds only one has come outside Asia. His away average is a sub-par 35.42 and his second innings average of 33.50 can also improve if he wants to win Test matches for Pakistan. The aforementioned players have scored Test hundreds all across the globe and that is one thing the Pakistan cricketer will look to change in the near future.
Pakistan have their hopes and dreams pinned on him to come good in the three-match Test series against England. He has already started the tour on a positive note, scoring a sublime 69 in the first innings of the series. But it’s the big hundreds which will give Pakistan a chance of winning the Test series and Babar would certainly know that.
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