Pakistan’s rising star Babar Azam has revealed he models himself on India captain Virat Kohli just days before the fierce rivals clash in an explosive World Cup showdown.
Azam holds the key for Pakistan against old foes India in Manchester on Sunday and the batsman has been fine-tuning his game by watching videos of the supremely talented Kohli.
Azam showed his class by scoring a brilliant 63 in Pakistan’s 348-8 when they beat pre-tournament favorites England earlier in the World Cup. His heroics gave Pakistan their only win so far in the tournament, with defeats against the West Indies and Australia, while their match against Sri Lanka was rained off.
While there is no love lost between India and Pakistan on or off the pitch, Azam is willing to admit he watches Kohli’s batting and tries to learn from him. “I watch his batting and the way he bats in various conditions and try to learn from them,” Azam told reporters. “I try to learn with experience. This is my process of learning, so I try my hundred percent. His [Kohli] winning ratio is higher [for India] so I am trying to achieve that as well.”
Azam, 24, says Pakistan’s Champions Trophy final demolition of India two years ago has increased the team’s confidence they can claim another surprise success against India this weekend. “The Champions Trophy win gave us confidence and will also help here as well because the team is mostly the same and that win is always an inspiration,” Azam said.
Pakistan, trounced by 124 runs in the opening match of the Champions Trophy by India, hit back by crushing their bitter rivals in the final. Their 180-run win at the Oval is the biggest over India in all ODIs.
“That win can never go off our memories and it’s a big inspiration,” he said.
The India-Pakistan clash will be watched by a vast global audience and Azam insists the pressure will spur his unpredictable team to produce their best. “We are well prepared for this match because India and Pakistan matches are exciting and demanding and the whole world watches it,” Azam said.
“The whole team is positive so we are looking forward to the match. Not only me but all the players want to finish on a high, whoever hits form wants to win it.”
And Azam is confident Pakistan will handle India’s potent pace attack, led by world number one ODI bowler Jasprit Bumrah. “No doubt, India have a good bowling attack but we have played well against England who also have a very good pace attack so all of us are confident the Indian pace attack will be properly handled,” Azam said.