Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan batsman Babar Azam said he learned the art of playing the ball late from New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
Azam started doing this after noticing that Williamson “has more time and more command over his shots when he plays the ball late and close to the body”.
The 26-year-old has featured in 31 Tests and scored 2,167 runs, which includes five centuries and 16 fifties, at an average of 44.22.
He has also played 80 ODIs and accumulated 3,808 runs, which includes 13 hundreds and 17 half-centuries, at an average of 55.93.
As for his T20 International career, Azam has amassed 1,916 runs in 50 games, which includes a century and 17 fifties, at an average of 49.12.
Azam recently overtook India captain Virat Kohli as the new number one batsman in ODI cricket and on Wednesday, he scored his maiden T20 International century against South Africa.
The 26-year-old made scores of 103, 31 and 94 in the three-match ODI series against South Africa, giving him a total of 228 runs at an average of 76.
As for the T20 series, he made 14 and 50 in the first two matches before hammering a career-best 122, which came off 59 balls and included 15 boundaries and four sixes, in the third T20 International.
In the fourth game, he made 24 runs before being dismissed by Lizaad Williams.
“I learnt the art of playing the ball late from Kane Williamson. I noticed that he has more time and more command over his shots when he plays the ball late and close to the body,” Azam said on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) podcast as quoted by Cricket Pakistan.
“So I started slowly emulating that approach and it helped me a lot. When you play close to your body, it also allows you to find more gaps in the field. So I have carried on with that approach.
“Previously, I used play away from my body and on the up. Ijaz Ahmed told me during [the] early part of my career that I will struggle a little bit because you won’t be able to drive the new ball if you are playing shots on the up. So I realized it later in my career that it is better to play the ball close to your body.”
Pakistan won the ODI series 2-1 and the T20 series 3-1.