Former Australian opener hails praise at Babar Azam

Former Australian opener hails praise at Babar Azam

Former Australian opener Mathew Hayden has voiced his expectations regarding Pakistan captain Babar Azam's pivotal role in the crucial Super Four clash against Sri Lanka in the 2023 Asia Cup, taking place on Thursday.

During a discussion on Star Sports, Hayden was questioned about his confidence in Babar's performance against Sri Lanka, considering his recent period of less successful outings. In response, Hayden expressed unwavering faith in the Pakistani skipper.

Hayden stated, "Babar Azam is a true champion. He has repeatedly bounced back from challenging situations because that's what champions do. When you look at the statistical comparison at this stage, pitting Virat Kohli against Babar Azam, it's Babar Azam who is leading in that head-to-head battle."

He continued, emphasizing the significant role Babar plays in the Pakistani team lineup, saying, "That's how critical he is to the Pakistani team, and I am confident he can deliver in this crucial encounter against Sri Lanka. Babar's importance extends beyond just being the captain; he is absolutely central to the talent within the batting unit."

The former mentor of the Pakistan team stressed the essential nature of Babar's contribution to Pakistan's batting lineup and how closely the team's batting fortunes are tied to his form.

Hayden concluded, "We all recognize that Pakistan cricket, particularly this team, relies heavily on its top order, and Babar always shoulders that responsibility. So when his performances aren't at their best, it has a significant impact." While Babar Azam displayed his brilliance with an outstanding 151-run performance against Nepal in the tournament opener, his recent appearances against Bangladesh and India were marked by early dismissals.

Consequently, there is heightened anticipation for him to play a defining role in this high-stakes match against Sri Lanka. With both Pakistan and Sri Lanka accruing 2 points from two Super Four matches, their upcoming encounter effectively serves as a virtual semi-final. The winner will proceed to face India in the final.

In the event of a rain-induced washout, Sri Lanka will qualify for the final due to their superior net run rate (-0.200) compared to Pakistan (-1.892).