Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has identified batsman Babar Azam as the national team’s “key player” for the two-Test series against Australia.
Azam struggled during Pakistan’s last tour of Australia in December 2016 to January 2017 as he accumulated 68 runs in three Tests at an average of 11.33.
This time around though, Azam is in fantastic form as he scored 115 runs in the three-match Twenty20 series against Australia, which included two half-centuries, at an average of 57.50 and a strike-rate of 138.55.
He followed that up with an unbeaten 157, which came off 197 balls and included 24 boundaries, in the practice game against Australia A in Perth and a 66-ball 63, which included nine boundaries and a six, against the Cricket Australia XI.
“There is a world of difference between Babar of 2016 and Babar now,” Misbah told cricket.com.au. “He’s now a matured and experienced player.
“In 2016, he was very new and didn’t have much experience in Test cricket. Also, he was batting at number three. Now he’s batting in the middle-order and has the experience of three (more) years on his side.
“He did well in South Africa and batted beautifully against fast bowling.
“There is improvement in his batting. He plays good shots on the back foot, which will be handy in these conditions. He’s scored runs in T20s as well as in the tour match so he’ll be coming into the series on the back of some good form. He’s our key player.”