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Opinion: Where does Babar Azam stand at the moment?

Pulkit
ANALYST
Feature
573   //    09 Feb 2019, 14:00 IST

In 2016, Babar Azam became the third Pakistani batsman to score three consecutive centuries in ODI cricket
In 2016, Babar Azam became the third Pakistani batsman to score three consecutive centuries in ODI cricket

Babar Azam is a popular name in the cricketing fraternity. The 24-year-old boy from Lahore has shown the glimpses of becoming an all-time great for Pakistan. He has an impeccable batting technique, showcasing aggression in a conventional way. He loves to play with a straight bat, relying on sheer timing and not on hard-hitting.

While he is still a novice in Test cricket, he has been among the best youngsters in limited overs cricket. When he completed 1,000 runs in ODI cricket, he jointly held the record for getting as many runs, playing a minimum number of innings. He did it in 21 innings to share the record with the likes of Vivian Richards, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Quinton de Kock.

At the moment, he is the only batsman in the world to boast an average of above 50 in ODIs and T20is. His average of 55 in T20i with a strike rate of 126.8 is hard to fathom. In ODI cricket he averages 51.29.

He had a brief fiasco in Test cricket as his average in this format was below 25 after playing 12 Tests, but a string of good performances has elevated his average to above 35.

Going by the aforementioned facts, he is often labeled (especially by Pakistani fans) in the same bracket as the modern greats. Pakistan's head coach Mickey Arthur has been eulogizing Babar Azam for some time now.

While Babar's overall numbers describe him as a sensational batsman, if we split his numbers for a purpose, it tells a different story. In this article, we dig up his numbers to find out some shortcomings in his batting records.


Babar Azam in ODI cricket against Sri Lanka/ West Indies/ Zimbabwe/ Afghanistan

Babar averages 102.80 against the Windies with four centuries in six innings
Babar averages 102.80 against the Windies with four centuries in six innings

In modern days cricket, these teams are weaker in comparison to some other teams. Their bowling attack is comparatively weak; they have been struggling in international cricket in the recent past. Babar Azam has been a run-machine against them, scoring 1168 runs at an average of 73 with seven centuries and three half-centuries in just 19 innings.

He has taken fewer than two innings to make a fifty-plus score against them. A conversion rate (fifty to hundred) of 72% is simply mind-boggling.

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Babar Azam in ODI cricket against India/ South Africa/ England/ New Zealand/ Australia/ Bangladesh

Babar Azam has not made a fifty-plus score against India yet
Babar Azam has not made a fifty-plus score against India yet

Against these teams, his numbers show an unexpected dip. Babar has struggled to face these teams as he has scored 1232 runs at at an average of 38.5 with one century and seven half-centuries in 36 innings. Against these opponents, Babar needs an average of 4.5 innings to make a fifty-plus score. A conversion rate of just 12.5% is also a huge concern.


ODI numbers in Australia/ England/ New Zealand/ South Africa:

No ODI century in England, New Zealand, and South Africa yet
No ODI century in England, New Zealand, and South Africa yet

For an Asian batsman, performance in these four countries has been a criterion to be called a successful batsman. Babar's numbers in these nations have been at par as he has scored 908 runs at 37.83 with one century and four half-centuries. To worsen the case, he has scored just one half-century in his last 15 innings in these nations.


His numbers in Red-ball cricket

Babar scored his maiden Test century after missing out eight times
Babar scored his maiden Test century after missing out eight times

In Test cricket, Babar has scored 1235 runs at 35.28 with one century and eleven half-centuries in 40 innings so far in his career. The importance of a good conversion rate in Test cricket is known to everyone; Babar's failure on this front leaves him with a lot to improve in this format.


Conclusion

Babar Azam is a hard-working guy. He has widened his array of shots, and has worked on his body to get a stronger physique. He is only 24 years of age, and has enough time to iron out his flaws. He has been seen dominating the best bowlers in world cricket lately. What he needs to do is to convert those good starts into big scores and prove his doubters wrong.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.

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