Pakistan captain Azhar Ali is confident Babar Azam will show he is one of the world’s leading batsmen in the Test series against England. The 25-year-old Babar has a fine career Test average of 45.12 from 26 matches heading into the first of a three-match campaign against England at Old Trafford on Wednesday. But his figures during the past two years suggest he is approaching the prime of his career. Babar’s five Test hundreds have all come since the start of 2018, during which time he has scored 1,375 runs in 15 matches at a hugely impressive average of 65.47.
Babar is top of the global Twenty20 batting rankings, third in the one-day standings and sixth in the Test list.
Azhar, asked if the England series would see Babar join Australia’s Steve Smith and India’s Virat Kohli in the top bra
cket of Test batsmen, told British media: “I think he is right up there already.”
“People are thinking and talking about it. He is just hungry for runs and I think if he keeps doing that he will be up there for quite a long time.”
“His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly, he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.”
Azhar, anxious not to pile too much pressure on to Babar, said he wanted the batsman to relax and play his natural game.
“He is a very important player for us but I would like him to be free from any pressure and just enjoy his game,” said the skipper.
Pakistan could also do with runs from Azhar, who knows English conditions well from his time with Somerset, and Asad Shafiq.