‘On track, but…’: Ex-Pakistan captain on comparisons between Virat Kohli and Babar Azam

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The 2022 Asian Cup is just around the corner and fans are eagerly awaiting the group stage clash between India and Pakistan in Dubai on August 28. It would be interesting to see how both teams perform. Prior to the tournament, Pakistan received a major blow as Shaheen Shah Afridi was kicked out of the tournament and the PCB named Mohammad Hasnain as his replacement. India would be without Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel but regular stars such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya will all be back.

All eyes would be on Virat’s performance after being rested for the series against West Indies and Zimbabwe. As India and Pakistan face off, eyes will be on both Virat Kohli and in-form Pakistan captain Babar Azam. Former cricketers Wasim Akram and Ravi Shastri touched on a virtual interaction where they talked about the upcoming Asian Cup and what to expect.

“It’s (comparisons) natural. When we were playing, I remember people comparing Inzamam-ul-Haq to Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, before that it was Javed Miandad-Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath-Zaheer Abbas. It’s natural, like you said, Babar has been very consistent in all three formats because he has the right technique, that’s why he’s been so consistent. He loves his stick; he races and he’s still pretty hungry. He’s physically fit, he’s still young and of course he’s the captain of all three formats,” Akram said while answering a question from NDTV during a virtual interaction hosted by Star Sports. Network.

“He’s a young captain, he’s still learning. As far as comparisons go, I think it’s a bit too early for me, Babar is on track to be where Virat is but comparing him to Virat at this stadium is a little bit too early. But as I said, it is on the way to becoming one of the greats of modern times.”

While answering another question from NDTV on the significance of the Asian Cup for Virat who hasn’t marked a century for over 1000 days, Akram said: “Not just Virat, but for every player in every team. This tournament is very important for all teams in Asia. This is the training before the World Cup, and if you win, that would be the icing on the cake, you will gain confidence if you get runs or wickets against the best teams.

However, Ravi Shastri said playing so many games leading up to the World Cup can cause injuries and that’s why every team needs to have a bigger pool ahead of the World Cup.

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“Once the squads are announced for the World Cup, I think the time limit is one month. So once you play those bilaterals, make sure you have a bigger squad. Add 5 to 6 more players you can put in the mix to give the main players who will be playing the World Cup a break,” Shastri said.

The Asian Cup 2022 will be broadcast from August 27 on Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.

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