World Cup 2019: Michael Clarke calls Babar Azam ‘Virat Kohli of Pakistan’ after his ton in warm-up game
Pakistan elected to bat and the team failed to last the full 50 overs, managing 262 against Afghanistan.
Updated - May 24, 2019 11:56 pm
The warm-up games for the ICC World Cup 2019 kicked off on Friday with Pakistan taking on Afghanistan and Sri Lanka meeting South Africa. All the 10 teams will be playing twice against each other in these warm-up games till May 28 before hosts England lock horns with the Proteas in the opening game at the Kennington Oval on May 30.
In the all-Asia match in Bristol, Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat and his team failed to last the full 50 overs, managing 262. The Men in Green had a good opening partnership of 47 but a mini-collapse saw them losing 4 for 100 before Babar Azam and veteran Shoaib Malik put up 103 runs for the fifth wicket. Azam scored a magnificent century (112 off 108 balls with 10 fours and two sixes) while Malik chipped in with 44 in 59 balls.
However, the break of this partnership saw Pakistan losing their way and could add just 59 runs for the last five wickets. The Afghan spinners impressed as Mohammad Nabi took 3 for 47 and Rashid Khan, who will be playing in his first World Cup, took 2 for 27.
Afghanistan did not lose any wickets while chasing with Mohammad Amir opening the bowling with Shaheen Afridi. These games do not have ODI status and the teams can change their XI during the game so that all players in the squad get some valuable match practice. Amir did not feature in the Pakistan batting XI.
Azam is in good form of late
However, it was Azam’s knock which caught all eyes and former Australia captain Michael Clarke even went to the extent of calling him as the “Virat Kohli of Pakistan” while commentating on the match. The 24-year-old talented batsman is one of Pakistan’s top trump cards in this World Cup and scored a hundred and two fifties in the recently concluded five-ODI series against England that the former world champions lost 0-4.
Azam, however, is not the first Pakistani batsman who has been compared with the India captain. Another batsman Ahmed Shehzad was also called the same though more for his looks than runs.
India will play their first warm-up match on Saturday and their opponents are New Zealand.