Babar Azam
Babar Azam (PC-Getty Images)

As a batter, Babar Azam is going through a very difficult time. There were high expectations for the Pakistani skipper, who has quickly gained recognition as one of the greatest batsmen of our time, but the slick right-hander fell short of them at the T20 World Cup.

He has only scored 39 runs in five innings, and his slump has been a big factor in Pakistan’s failure to start the world competition. 

Babar Azam’s performance has been so poor that he has only once reached double figures at the World Cup, and even then, against Zimbabwe, his strike rate was only 75.

Matthew Hayden Cautions Other Teams About Babar Azam

Despite this, Matthew Hayden, a former Australian opener who currently serves as the Pakistani team’s batting consultant, has cautioned other teams about Babar Azam, saying the right-hander is just a few runs away from amassing a significant total.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam (PC-Getty Images)

“…don’t be surprised whatsoever if you don’t see some fireworks because very special players don’t often stay down for long,” Prior to the semifinal matchup against New Zealand on Wednesday, Hayden stated during the pre-game news conference. 

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“There’s no question that Babar has been under some adversity. That will make him not only an even greater player…You can’t continue to keep on punching out hundreds and 50s and strike rates of 140-plus. 

“There’s got to be moments in time where there’s a lull. And as we all know about the weather, once there’s a lull, there’s often a storm that follows. So look out, rest of the world, because I think you’re about to see something very special from Babar Azam.” 

It Has Been A Rollercoaster Ride: Matthew Hayden

After losing to India and Zimbabwe, Pakistan was on the verge of being eliminated, but the Netherlands’ unexpected victory over South Africa opened a door, and they overcame Bangladesh in their final Super 12 game to secure the semifinal position. 

“It has been a rollercoaster ride but I wouldn’t have it any other way, because the last World Cup we went into the semi-final undefeated, and Australia pipped us,” Hayden said. 

Image Credits: Twitter/ICC

“So, yeah, there’s ups and downs in this tournament, but I really believe yet with our best game, which is a huge threat to our opposition. 

“The way the middle order has stepped up to the plate has been excellent and those fast bowlers, man, there’s four of them and they come at great pace.” 

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Hayden was impressed by the middle order’s contribution to the team’s success despite Babar and Mohammad Rizwan’s struggles at the top. 

Mohammad Haris Got Freshness: Matthew Hayden

The former Australian starting pitcher picked out Mohammad Haris, who scored 59 runs in just two innings, for praise. 

“Whilst it (batting) hasn’t gone absolutely to plan, it’s meant that our middle order players have had to step up, and young Haris has been one of those. 

“Great story, really significant story of any World Cup. Not even in the squad and now performing like he should have been there from the start.” Hayden feels Haris’ net sessions against the pacers helped. 

Mohammad Haris
Mohammad Haris (PC-Getty Images)

“It’s no surprise to see how he came in and played so beautifully. He’s got a very good technique on our fast bouncy wickets. He’s got a freshness,” he said. 

“One of the things as an outsider coming into this tournament is pretty much the entire cricketing community with the amount of program is fatigued to some degree. 

“So to have a young, fresh face with nothing to lose, nothing really to gain, but just play with great freedom has been a wonderful expression for him personally but also for team Pakistan.” 

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Also Read: PAK vs NZ: Babar Azam And Mohammad Rizwan Rightly Are A Number One Combination: Matthew Hayden