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We haven’t seen the best of Babar Azam yet: Mickey Arthur

Babar slammed 90 off just 58 balls in the second T20I against South Africa.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam. (Photo Source: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan were pretty much on the backfoot when South Africa’s innings ended in the second T20I at the Wanderers on Sunday. With stand-in skipper David Miller firing on all cylinders, scoring 65 off just 29, the Proteas set the visitors 189 to win and draw level in the three-match series. When in-form opener Fakhar Zaman departed for just 14, the task looked herculean as many would have thought that the game would be one-way traffic in favour of South Africa.

However, Pakistan’s most consistent and reliable batsman, Babar Azam once again rose to the occasion and played a gem of a knock to turn the game on its head. In fact, he had put Pakistan on the front foot before his dismissal changed the course of the game and the Proteas won it. He slammed 90 off just 58 while sharing a 102-run stand with Hussain Talat to bring Pakistan in a game. The knock is definitely one of the best seen in the shortest format of the game.

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While the modern-day batsmen rely on big shots and slogging to do the bulk of the scoring, Babar showed timing and traditional shots could also take a batsman far. However, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes the knock was not the best.

I never doubted Babar

“I have never doubted Babar. I said two years ago that he was going to be that good,” Arthur said after the game. “The exciting thing is that we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He is going to get better and better. There were always question marks on Babar’s ability to perform outside the subcontinent. He has been unbelievable on this tour and he has put those questions to rest.”

Arthur, who had promoted Babar Azam as a T20 opener at Karachi Kings during the second edition of the Pakistan Super League, further backed the Pakistan star of becoming one of the best batsmen in the world across formats.

“Two years ago when I saw him in the nets I said that he was going to be as good as Virat Kohli. From a young boy back then he has developed into a man now. He has got stronger and fitter. And, I certainly think he is going to be in the top five in the world across all formats very, very soon.”

Arthur rues poor bowling

South Africa beat Pakistan by seven runs in the second game to seal the series with a match-remaining. For the second game in a row, Pakistan conceded more than 180, much to their coach’s anguish. The Proteas scored 188 for 3 before restricting Pakistan to 181 for 7.

“To be brutally honest with ourselves, I think we batted brilliantly but bowled poorly as a unit apart from Imad Wasim [who returned 1 for 9 in four overs]. We did not execute our plans. I think we gave away 64 runs off the short balls when the plan was to bowl full and wicket-to-wicket. The execution in the last over particularly was poor,” said Arthur.

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