Sport

Babar turns it around in Tests

Full of runs: Babar says doing well in South Africa boosted his confidence.

Full of runs: Babar says doing well in South Africa boosted his confidence.   | Photo Credit: ASIF HASSAN

Reveals that he corrected the mistakes and learned the nuances of the longer version

Pakistan’s top batsman and T20 skipper Babar Azam says he spent a good part of 2019 correcting the mistakes he made in Test cricket and now has a better understanding of the format’s nuances.

Babar said he wasn’t living up to his own expectations in Tests for the last two years.

Finding his way

“This year, I worked on rectifying the mistakes I made in the format and was able to overcome some of them. That helped me make some runs. The more you play the longer format, the more you understand its nuances and find your way,” said Babar.

In six Tests, Babar scored 616 runs (three hundreds and three half-centuries) at 68.44 at a hugely impressive strike-rate of 72.30 last year while in 20 ODIs, he totalled 1,092 runs with three centuries and six half-centuries at 60.66. His strike-rate was 93.30.

In 10 T20Is, Babar contributed 374 runs (four fifties) at 41.55 with a strike-rate of 136.99.

He felt that getting runs in South Africa gave him immense confidence.

“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. The century in Australia gave me confidence that I can make big runs in the format,” he said.

Self-belief

Babar added that when a batsman gets runs in countries like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand against formidable bowling attacks, he gets self-belief and confidence.

“I rate the century against Australia as my best innings of the year in the Test format,” he said.

He is the only Pakistan cricketer in the ICC rankings to feature in the top-six in all the three formats — No. 6 in Tests, No. 3 in ODIs and No. 1 in T20Is.

“I used to score runs earlier but sometimes I wasn’t able to produce 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,” said Babar.

Record tally

He also talked about the ICC World Cup, his first as a player. Babar made a Pakistan record of 474 runs in the mega event at an average of 67.71.

“It was a big occasion and I really enjoyed the tournament. 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 to get recognised at the highest level and it gave me real satisfaction.

“My innings against New Zealand (101 not out, 127b, 11x4) 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.”

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 6:47:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/babar-turns-it-around-in-tests/article30453498.ece

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