Can Babar Azam emulate Virat Kohli? Shoaib Akhtar answers
Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar believes it is unfair to compare Virat Kohli and Babar Azam. According to the former speedster, Babar could become the greatest batsman from Pakistan, but he will have to toil up in order to match the class of Kohli. Notably, Babar started his international career seven years after Kohli made his debut. Here's more.
"Virat has 70 centuries in international cricket. So in the next five years, he will get 30 more and I want him to get 120 centuries, or at least 110. With these many runs, who can be compared to him? The debate in itself is wrong. And Babar is now coming through. It's really good that there is healthy competition," Akhtar told Sports Tak.
Babar is certainly one of the best batters from Pakistan across formats. In One-Day Internationals, Babar has amassed 3,985 runs from 83 matches at a phenomenal average of 56.93. This includes 14 tons and 17 fifties. He has a strike rate of 89.57 in the format. Babar also has 2,169 Test and 2,153 T20I runs to his name.
Kohli is the leading run-scorer in international cricket among active cricketers, presently. The 32-year-old has racked up 22,875 runs from 436 matches at an incredible average of 55.65. He has also slammed 70 tons across all three formats, third-best after Sachin Tendulkar (100) and Ricky Ponting (71). Kohli is touted to break Master Blaster's record of scoring 100 international centuries.
Akhtar asserted that Babar would have to do well in run-chases in order to emulate Run Machine Kohli. "If Babar needs to beat Virat and surpass him, he will have to score more runs chasing. Babar can be the greatest batsman of Pakistan, but it will take time. We will judge Kohli and Babar after 10 years," concluded Akhtar.
Kohli is one of the greatest match-winners in white-ball cricket. He owns 5,388 runs from 89 matches in successful run-chases (ODI cricket). The Indian captain averages an astonishing 96.21 in these matches (22 tons). Meanwhile, Babar has tallied 986 from 23 ODIs in successful run-chases. Just like Kohli, the Pakistani batter has a terrific average (75.84). However, Babar's tally includes only 2 tons.
Babar recently became the fastest batsman to 2,000 runs in T20I cricket. He achieved the milestone in 52 innings. Notably, Kohli was the previous record-holder (56 innings). The latter remains the only player with over 3,000 runs in the format (3,159).