Babar is very close to being in same league as Kohli, Smith: Misbah

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25 May 2020 | 06:22 AM
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Babar is very close to being in same league as Kohli, Smith: Misbah

Misbah also said that the T20 World Cup should not be postponed in haste

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Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq believes Babar Azam is destined to be a world class player and is very close to being in the same league as India skipper Virat Kohli and Australia's Steve Smith.

"I don't like comparisons but Babar is currently very close to being in the same class as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith or Joe Root," Misbah said in an interview to YouTube channel, Cricket Baaz.

"He believes in the work ethic that if you want to better Kohli you have to work harder than him at your skills, fitness and game awareness."

The 25-year-old, who was named captain of the Pakistan T20 team ahead of the Australia series in October last year, was recently handed the reins of ODI team as well.

"Making him the T20 captain was a tester. We wanted to see how he will respond to this challenge. All of us agree that he has done a very good job and his biggest plus is that being among the worlds top players he leads by example," Misbah said.

"If you are a performer like Babar then it becomes easier for you to motivate the rest of the team and get things done.

"Even when I was made captain in 2010 my performances were here and there and I was in and out. But captaincy changed my game and mindset and I became a more hard working and motivated cricketer."

Misbah said Babar always challenges himself and would get better as a captain with experience.

"He is in a zone of his own. He just doesn't want to be in the team. He just doesn't want to play for money. He wants to be the top performer for Pakistan. He is always pitting himself against other top batsmen like Kohli or Smith," he said.

"He loves challenges in the nets and on the field. He has really matured as a player and in time he will get better as a captain with experience."

Babar was the leading run-scorer of the T20I series against Australia last year. He also scored 210 runs, which included a hundred, at 52.50 in the Test series against the same opponents.

In the two-Test home series against Sri Lanka, Babar ended the series with 262 runs with an average of exactly 262.

Misbah feels Babar had changed as a batsman when he got runs in the Tests in Australia.

"Before that he was getting runs in tests but not consistently. In Australia and in the following tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh he changed," he said.

Talking about his experience as a head coach, Misbah said: "Having captained, it has helped me a lot. As captain I had to manage everything and also having played under top coaches ... I have seen closely their work ethics and how they managed things.

"It is a learning process. Having remained captain it is a big advantage for coaching because you know the players and their mood swings. You know which player will respond in a given situation,which player is feeling pressure in a scenario.

Misbah said it is not easy juggling between different roles.

"Most important thing as a coach is mentally and psychologically how you handle a group of players," the former skipper said.

"Sometimes captain and coach is different as you have to take tough decisions. Being chief selector makes it it a bit difficult but I had experience of creating and managing teams, I have been building teams since 2003. Till now it is going well."

Misbah feels in Pakistan cricket there were different parameters for judging foreign and local coaches.

"I don't know why it is like this why do we have different eye for locals and foreigners. Maybe we feel they have something special. It looks like every decision by a foreign coach is right. In contrast we tend to be very critical of local coaches no matter what decision they take," he said.

T20 World Cup should not be postponed in haste: Misbah

The authorities must not postpone the T20 World Cup in haste since the showpiece event is the best product to highlight cricket once activities resume, Misbah has said.

Misbah said though logistics is a huge challenge due to the prevailing circumstances, the authorities must deliberate enough before arriving at a decision.

"The logistics of hosting 16 teams is not easy but the authorities should give it time and wait for a month or more before taking any decision," Misbah said.

"Everyone wants to see the T20 World Cup. It would be the best product to highlight cricket once activities resume internationally," he said.

Misbah also said that their upcoming tour to England will not be easy for either the players, coaches or anyone as circumstances are not ideal for cricket.

"But there is a feeling of depression right now all over the world because of this Covid-19 problem and with sports suspended there is no entertainment. People want to move on so I think we must give it a try," he said.

Pakistan and England Boards have discussed a tour by the green shirts from July to play three Tests and three T20 matches in bio-secure environment.

"The idea is to first have one to one training then increase the number of players to groups. We need to get together and train to be prepared for a comeback to cricket.

"It is not going to be easy also getting used to new rules like not applying saliva sweat to shine the ball. I am hoping a three-week camp in Pakistan and then more practice in quarantine in England should get the players prepared."

The Pakistan coach had no doubt the players will face difficulties adjusting to the new laws and bio-secure environment.

"We will be taking a group of 25 to 27 players to England because we can't ask for replacements and we all have to be together from start to end so that no one catches the virus."

He confirmed that former captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed would be the second wicketkeeper in the touring squad after Rizwan.

"Yes it makes sense to take two keepers on this tour because where will we find a replacement in those conditions. Sarfaraz is obviously our choice," he said.

The Pakistan head coach to a question insisted he had no personal motive in seeing Sarfaraz ousted as captain and player from all three formats.

"I felt that as time progressed Sarfaraz was feeling more pressure more so because of his own form which was suffering. It was a decision to give him a break so that he could rest and make a strong comeback.

"I am happy to see that he has worked very hard on his fitness and game. He is very much in our plans."

Misbah also insisted that pace bowlers Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir's exclusion from central contracts had nothing to do with their decision to quit red ball cricket.

"They were not given contracts because the board has decided to reduce the number of players given contracts to make it more competitive and we felt that we needed to give some incentive to the younger players.

"The two are very much in our plans until the 2023 World Cup. They are still playing white ball cricket and don't forget they are two T20 World events before 2023. They figure in our plans and will play when required."

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PakistanIndiaMohammad Babar AzamVirat KohliSteven Peter Devereux SmithMisbah-ul-Haq Khan Niazi

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