Pakistan’s top batsman and T20 skipper Babar Azam says he spent a good part of 2019 correcting the mistakes he made in Test cricket and now has a better understanding of the format’s nuances. Azam said he wasn’t quite living up to his own expectations in Test cricket for the last two years.
“This year, I worked on improving the mistakes I made in the format and was able to overcome some of them which helped me make some runs. The more you play the longer format, the more you understand the nuances of the game and find your way,” Azam said.
Batting with an average of 68.44, Babar scored 616 runs in six Tests last year, which included three centuries and an equal number of half-centuries. In 20 ODIs, he amassed 1,092 runs at 60.66. His strike-rate was 93.30 and the runs tally included three centuries and six half-centuries.
In 10 T20Is, Babar contributed 374 runs at 41.55 with a strike-rate of 136.99. Babar scored a total of four half-centuries in T20Is in 2019.
Babar said scoring well and getting runs in South Africa gave him immense confidence.
“My innings in South Africa against Dale Steyn gave me great pleasure and confidence that I can get into the Test match zone. I also learned how to convert 60s and 70s into 100s, and then my century in Australia gave me confidence that I can make big runs in the format,” he said in a year-end statement on Tuesday.
Babar said when a batsman gets runs in places like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand against formidable bowling attacks, he gets self-belief and confidence. “I rate the century against Australia as my best innings of the year in Test format,” he said.
Babar was Pakistan’s most prolific batsman in all three formats in the year and finally came of age in Test cricket as well. Babar is the only Pakistani cricketer in the ICC Player Rankings to feature in the top-six across the three formats — No.6 in Tests, No.3 in ODIs and No.1 in T20Is.
“I used to score runs earlier but sometimes I wasn’t able to give match-winning performances. I tried to improve on that aspect learned how to bat and win games under pressure, which was a big learning curve for me,” he said.
He also talked about the ICC World Cup, his first as a player. Babar scored a Pakistan record of 474 runs in the tournament at 67.71.
“It was a big occasion and I really enjoyed the event. As a kid, I used to follow World Cups very keenly on television. When I got selected for the big event, I set a goal of doing something big and different,” he said.
“Being the top batsman in my team was always a target for me. The World Cup gave me an opportunity of getting recognised at the highest level, which gave me real satisfaction. “My innings against New Zealand (101 not out, 127b, 11×4) was my best in the tournament and it taught me a great deal of how to bat and bail the team out in a pressure situation.”
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