Babar Azam, the captain of Pakistan, is one of the top players in cricket right now, but when it comes to the game’s shortest format, his strike rate is a constant source of discussion. Babar is placed third in the T20I rankings, but when he walks out to begin the batting with Mohammad Rizwan, he frequently receives criticism for his strike rate. Babar came under fire earlier this month when former Pakistani pacer Aaqib Javed claimed that his team never attempted to get rid of Babar because of the speed at which he bats against Karachi Kings, the PSL team that Babar manages.
When Babar was questioned about Javed’s remark prior to the seven-match T20I series, he continued by saying there shouldn’t be “personal attacks” and that he does not pay attention to the outside gossip. “He might think that. Everyone has their own point of view. Everyone has their own opinion, we do not listen to them. We don’t bring the outside chatter inside the dressing room. Everyone has their point of view, you can talk about things, but as players you have also witnessed all this in sport. Every player has gone through it, there is so much pressure and responsibility. There shouldn’t be personal attacks, it isn’t just about me, I am talking about the entire team. You can have normal discussion, we do not listen to what people are saying. It doesn’t matter,” said Babar during a press conference.
Aaqib Javed had earlier stepped out to make a forceful statement on Babar Azam and his strike rate in Twenty20 matches. According to Javed, Pakistan may suffer in difficult chases from having Babar and Mohammad Rizwan because of their similar playing styles and propensity to let the needed run rate rise too high. The team selection for the T20 World Cup is still “doubtful,” according to Javed, who is the Director of Cricket for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). This raises concerns, in particular, concerning the batting lineup. “When you knew that the World Cup was happening, and even today, the selection is doubtful. Because they should have done this six or eight months back, that this is our squad of 20 players. And there’s a reasoning for that,” Javed told Sports Paktv.
“You have openers, no.3, middle order, lower middle order… you should know what your batting composition is. If someone gets out early, who can come and consolidate, build a little and then score quickly later on… I don’t see anyone like that in the team. And that has become the mindset that we have to keep these two openers. The two openers are effective, but where? For scores under 150-160. They are suitable for that,” Javed had said. “When we play against Karachi and we have a total of 180 or so, we have never tried too hard or wanted too badly to get Babar Azam out. Because he plays at his own pace and the required rate keeps increasing. Rizwan is also similar. No doubt he played very well in the PSL, but when these two play together, then you have two performers of the same type,” he added.