Image taken by: Bimal Mirwani
Shoaib Akhtar said Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Azam Khan reminds him of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq as he makes a bold statement that he is “here to run the show” when he is playing.
Azam was one of the most improved performers in the 2023 Pakistan Super League (PSL) as he amassed 282 runs in 10 matches for Islamabad United, which included two fifties, at an average of 40.28 and a strike-rate of 161.14.
His brilliance with the bat earned him the chance to play for Pakistan in their three-match T20I series against Afghanistan.
Akhtar noted that the Azam became the centre of attention when he was batting, which is the key to becoming a star player. This is what separates him from Babar Azam as Akhtar feels the Pakistan captain doesn’t ignite the crowd in the same way.
“When Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shahid Afridi, and Abdul Razzaq used to play, they would say, ‘the whole ground and its crowd is mine. I control the atmosphere in this place’. And Azam was controlling that. That’s how you become a star,” he was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.
“It’s not just about winning ICC Player of the Year awards, no, no. The things Azam (Khan) did… [the] crowd backed him, and he took their ownership. He was like, ‘I’m here to run the show.’”
Pakistan’s next assignment will be a two-Test tour of Sri Lank in July, but Azam was not picked for the series.
Pakistan Squad for Sri Lanka Test Series: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vc & wk), Aamer Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Muhammad Huraira, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Noman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Shan Masood