'I would put my money on him at least for a while' - Mahela Jayawardene backs Babar Azam to dethrone Joe Root in Test numbers

Being the captain as well, Babar Azam has taken responsibility and performed, reckoned Mahela Jayawardene.

Mahela Jayawardene
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Mahela Jayawardene. (Photo by Getty Images)

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Ever since the start of the decade, Joe Root has by far been the most consistent batter in Tests. After scoring 1708 runs in 2021, Root was named as Men’s Test Player of the Year and no one really came close to challenging him for the title. However, his form took a dip, and he even relinquished captaincy after losing the Test series against the West Indies.

Things changed when Brendon McCullum took charge of the team. Root has been fantastic ever since and has been the number one batter in Test cricket. While Root’s rivals, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, and Steve Smith are struggling at the moment, he certainly is the undisputed king for the time being.

The Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene believes that it’s Babar Azam who can dethrone Root as the number one Test batter. When it comes to white-ball cricket, Babar is currently the number one player and is at number three in Test cricket. Babar himself aims to be the number one player across formats. He currently is 44 points behind Root and will next take on England to challenge him for the number one spot.

“I would say Babar Azam has an opportunity. He’s been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his rankings. He’s a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he’s got the game to adapt as well. It depends on the amount of cricket, who’s playing when, and how much but Babar might be the guy”, said Jayawardene during the latest episode of The ICC Review.

Being the captain as well, Babar Azam has taken responsibility and performed: Mahela Jayawardene

Despite being the captain of the side, Babar hasn’t let pressure take the better of him. He’s been very consistent from the last few years and will look forward to doing well in the ongoing World Test Championship and also in the T20 World Cup.

Backing Babar for the longest format of the game, Jayawardene said, “I would put my money on him at least for a little while to hold onto all three but there are some good quality players around who will keep pushing him.”

With Steve Smith showing signs of returning back to form, Babar’s job is not going to be easy as a lack of Test matches is also a matter of concern. The 45-year-old, however, remained firm in his view and explained further.

“He’s always going to push himself to get better. Seen in a couple of his interviews recently that it is his goal as well to be No.1 across the table. There’s no harm in challenging yourself to get there. Being the captain as well, he has taken responsibility and performed, which is great to see. (It’s) Not an easy thing to do,” he said while speaking to Sanjana Ganesan.