Azhar Ali believes his Pakistan batsmen are ready to take on Test cricket’s toughest away conditions and has tipped Babar Azam to show why he now belongs in the same bracket as Steve Smith and Virat Kohli. Until late last year such an endorsement of Babar’s credentials against the red ball would have been slightly fanciful with the right-hander, so formidable in the white-ball formats, having taken 17 Tests to register his maiden century. But the floodgates truly burst open in November, with Babar’s stylish 104 in an otherwise one-sided defeat to Australia at the Gabba followed by scores of 97, eight, 102 not out, 60, an unbeaten 100 and 143 that saw him break into the world’s top 10. Having seen his last tour of England in 2018 ended after just one innings when, on 68 at Lord’s, a wrist was broken by Ben Stokes, the 25-year-old Babar is not short on motivation to make his mark this time around either. “I think he is right up there with [Smith and Kohli] already,” said Azhar, a captain not usually prone to hyperbole. “People are thinking and talking about it. I know him though, and he is not focused on… Read full this story
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