Karachi: Babar Azam should take the leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book and must quit captaincy so that he can enjoy his batting and can become one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
There is a lot of pressure on Babar Azam from the outside as well as from the inside. I personally feel he should quit captaincy. He lacks that character. As a captain, one should be bubbly and calling the shots in the ground. He doesn’t talk much. I hardly see him talking to the bowlers. As a captain, you can’t let your chips down. Against Australia, he looked out of ideas, his shoulders were down. If your bowlers are leaking runs, you need to talk to them, give them plan B if plan A has backfired. When things are going wrong, that’s when you need a strong captain. Cricket is a thinking game, and a smart captain must have more tricks in his sleeve. Right now, I think Babar is running out of ideas.
It is my personal opinion, that he would have been a better playing as a batsman than leading this team. Look at Kohli, he left India’s captaincy, and it has turned his fortunes around. The other day, I saw his batting against Bangladesh. He is smiling; he looks happy. he is is enjoying his cricket. What can I talk about his batting, he looked so assured. It looked like the entire script was in his mind and he was executing it to perfection. I feel that leaving captaincy has done wonders to him. I can see Kohli playing till the next ODI World Cup as well. Why not? He is fit, he has got the hunger to score runs and I think the bad phase is behind him. Those three years were tough for all those who have loved Virat’s batting but it is in the past now.
Babar should learn from the best. It is not necessary that a good batter can become a good captain. In 1981, in the middle of the Ashes, Ian Botham was sacked from captaincy because he was not performing well. Mike Brearley was appointed captain and it turned out to be a blessing for England as Botham single-handedly helped them won the Ashes. It still is probably one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of Ashes cricket.
The other facet where we are struggling as a team is our spin department. It is probably one of the weakest spin attacks of Pakistan. Bowling in the middle overs is a grey area for us. If you don’t have quality spinners, you will struggle in Indian conditions. Look at India, R Ashwin is warming the bench and has played only one game. He has more than 400 wickets. But you can;t blame them the team management. Kuldeep Yadav is bowling beautifully. The spin, the drift, I hope to see him playing more Test matches. Then there is Ravindra Jadeja, probably the most underrated cricketer of this era. A gun fielder, very good batsman and in those Indian conditions, I don’t think there is anyone one better than him.
We have lacked consistency in both bowling and batting in the World Cup so far. Apart from that, there is a lack of vision in our cricket. You need long-term planning, and right now in Pakistan cricket, it is all about stop-gap arrangements. You can’t play cricket with that mindset.
With two losses against India and Australia, they have made things difficult for themselves. The Indian team is too strong. In all the three departments, they are a better side than Pakistan. India’s batsmen are in form, the pacers are just exceptional, the spinners are world-class. In the field, they are not giving an inch. We were not a competition to India, they were just ruthless. My concern was the way we played against Adam Zampa in Bangalore. He was not even bowling well but ended up taking four wickets. It was not good bowling but just poor batsmanship.
Intikhab Alam is a former Pakistan captain and coach. He spoke to Pratyush Raj.