Century Against Australia My Best Knock of 2019: Babar Azam
Babar Azam (AFP Image)

Pakistan batsman Babar Azam revealed that his performance in the Test series against South Africa which began in late December of 2018 gave him the confidence of performing well at the international level. Babar scored 221 runs in three Tests against South Africa at an average of 36.83 with two half-centuries even as Pakistan were swept 0-2 in the two-match series.

In six Tests, Babar scored 616 runs at 68.44 at a hugely impressive strike-rate of 72.30 last year with the help of three centuries, one of which came in Australia against a strong Australia side. Against the likes of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, Babar scored 104 in Brisbane and followed it with a fighting 97 at Adelaide. Although his knocks were not able to prevent Pakistan from going down 0-2 to Australia, they proved to be a shot in the arm for the batsman.

“My innings in South Africa against Dale Steyn gave me great pleasure and confidence that I can get into the Test match zone. I also learned how to convert 60s and 70s into 100s, and then my century in Australia gave me confidence that I can make big runs in the format. I rate the century against Australia as my best innings of the year in Test format,” he said Tuesday.

Babar was equally prolific in the limited-overs format. In 20 ODIs, he totalled 1092 runs – including three centuries and six fifties – at 60.66 and a strike-rate of 93.30. In 10 T20Is, Babar contributed 374 runs with four half-centuries at 41.55 with a strike-rate of 136.99 2019.

Babar is also the only Pakistani cricketer in the ICC Player Rankings to feature in the top-six across formats – No. 6 in Tests, No.3 in ODIs and No.1 in T20Is. He also talked about the ICC World Cup, his first as a player. Babar scored a Pakistan record of 474 runs in the tournament at an impressive average of 67.71.

“I used to score runs earlier but sometimes I wasn’t able to give match-winning performances. I tried to improve on that aspect learned how to bat and win games under pressure, which was a big learning curve for me,” he said.

“It (World Cup) was a big occasion and I really enjoyed the event . As a kid, I used to follow World Cups very keenly on television. When I got selected for the big event, I set a goal of doing something big and different,” he said.

“Being the top batsman in my team was always a target for me. The World Cup gave me an opportunity of getting recognised at the highest level, which gave me real satisfaction. My innings against New Zealand (101 not out, 127b, 11×4) was my best in the tournament and it taught me a great deal of how to bat and bail the team out in a pressure situation.”