Babar Azam likes to take on challenges head-on! It is one of his aspect which has helped him succeed in his career. Babar Azam has shouldered the burden of scoring runs for Pakistan across format with ease. As a result, he is compared with the likes of one of the finest cricketers of the generation Virat Kohli. His success in international cricket has bore fruits for him with his board further appointing him as the captain of the limited-overs side.
Azam earned his ODI cap in 2015. But he was always persistent towards it as he did not shy away from challenges as a youngster. In an interview with legendary commentator Harsha Bhogle, the Paksitan limited-overs’ captain opened up on facing Shoaib Akhtar at his teenage.
Babar Azam: Shoaib Akhtar told me he will pitch the ball full, just block it
Babar Azam was a part of camp for the emerging players or Pakistan A where legend Shoaib Akhtar also came to practice on somedays. Pakistan coach Mudassar Nazar had asked Akthar to take a Azam with him for the practice. The Rawalpindi express had asked him to block the ball but Azam had different plans.
“I remember, there was a camp for the emerging players or Pakistan A. That time, they would even call some of us from the Under-15 team to practice with them. Mudassar Nazar, who was there, would call us to bat first. We were asked to bat first so that the bowlers could warm up and understand their paces,” Babar Azam said on Cricbuzz.
“Shoaib Akhtar would come there at times, towards the end of the camp to bowl for a bit. One day, he asked for a batsman to bowl at and Mudassar bhai asked him to take me along with him. So I got ready and was quite excited. Shoaib told me, ‘Kid, I will pitch the ball full, just block it, don’t drive’. I said okay. I blocked the first two balls but drove the third one,” he added.
His approach left Akhtar infuriated, with former Pakistan cricketer Mudassar later asking Azam to get out of his may or he might get killed with his pace or bounce.
“I kept doing that – block two balls and drive the third one. He was like, ‘Get me a new ball, I will show him’. Immediately, Mudassar bhai told me, ‘get out of the nets or he will kill you’. He took me out of the nets,” he said.
Azam has scored at an average of 45 in the longest format and over 50 in the limited-overs, which says a lot about his batting. He will be next seen in action in Pakistan’s tour to England.