To be compared to Virat Kohli after playing a handful of games would be an honour for some but could be a poisoned chalice for many others. But this is exactly the pressure that the 24-year-old Babar Azam has been living with ever since that comparison was made by the Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur.
On the face of it, the comparison sounded like frivolous praise on the part of the head coach, but Mickey Arthur had seen enough potential in Babar Azam to make that call. The ability to dispatch bowlers to the boundary of the stature of Dale Steyn with consummate ease and to walk onto the field in situations where other batsmen would waver in their resolves are all qualities that have made Babar Azam to be considered as Pakistan’s top batsmen and a prize wicket for opponents.
Ranked as the number one batsman by the ICC in Tweny20s, Babar Azam has shown his potential to the world, but he will need to do more in the upcoming World Cup to prove that his current 7th ranking in ODIs is just an aberration. Regardless of his position in the ICC rankings, 2462 runs in 59 matches with an average of 51.29 are all hallmarks of a batsman with huge abilities and one that the opposition will be wary of when the action begins in the World Cup.
To many, Babar Azam’s recent form has failed to do justice to his talent but to those who understand his game well, the Pakistani youngster’s potential to impress is huge. Pakistan will look for Babar to come at his familiar No 3 position and carry on the attack and create a platform where the lower-order can come and capitalize to take the match away from the opposition.
For Babar Azam, the World Cup represents a great opportunity to show-case his immense talent to the world. In doing so, he could well be the trump card that Pakistan will need to walk away with the trophy.