Can Babar Azam become number one Test batter? Jayawardene answers
Babar Azam is one of the most gifted batters of the current generation. He is the number one batter in the ICC Rankings for both ODIs and T20Is. Meanwhile, Babar ranks third in the Test Rankings, behind Joe Root and Marnus Labuschagne. Taking into account his competence, former Sri Lankan cricketer Mahela Jayawardene feels Babar can usurp Root as the number one Test batter.
"I would say Babar Azam has an opportunity. He's been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his rankings. He's a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he's got the game to adapt as well," said Jayawardene in the recent episode of the ICC Review. The veteran reckons Babar has the technique and the composure that makes him a stand-out performer.
Babar, who made his debut in 2016, has smashed 3,122 runs in 42 Tests He averages a decent 47.30, with seven hundreds and 23 fifties. His best score reads 196 (vs Australia). Meanwhile, Root had rallied himself to 3,493 runs in this interval, averaging a phenomenal 52.92. He had nine centuries and 20 half-centuries, with 200* versus Sri Lanka as the personal best.
Root tops the scoring charts in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship cycle. He has racked up 1,744 runs in 16 Tests. He averages a stellar 64.59, with eight hundreds and five fifties. Jonny Bairstow follows suit (1,218). Babar is seated third after having amassed 953 runs at 63.53. He has registered two hundreds and seven fifties in this interval.
Root's stupendous form has raced him to 927 runs in nine Tests played in 2022. He averages 61.80 and ranks behind Bairstow (994) among the leading run-getters in whites. Usman Khawaja (888) and Dinesh Chandimal (719) trail them. Babar is catching up, having amassed 661 runs while averaging 73.44. He is Pakistan's leading run-getter and ranks behind the aforementioned.
Root will be up against Babar when Pakistan tours England for a three-match series in November-December. Pakistan (PCT 51.85) are seated fifth in the 2021-23 ICC World Test Championship standings. They have mustered 54 points, courtesy of four wins, three losses, and two draws. England (33.33) will face South Africa in August-September and later host Babar's men. They are seated seventh in WTC standings.