Learn to emulate 'idol' Kohli: Shoaib Akhtar's advice to Babar Azam

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar said while Babar Azam has been scoring crucial runs for Pakistan, he fails to go the full distance.

Shoaib Akhtar: "If you look at players like Virat, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson... all these guys accelerate their scoring after reaching fifty. Babar should learn from them. He should have more range of shots."   -  getty images

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, on Monday, said Virat Kohli fan Babar Azam should learn to play like his “idol” and convert good starts into big knocks by adapting to match situations.

Akhtar said while Azam has been scoring crucial runs for Pakistan, he fails to go the full distance. “I would like to tell Babar Azam that when you consider Virat Kohli your idol then you should also learn to play like him. Virat has scored runs in very difficult situations. Babar should learn to take singles like Virat, learn to improvise like him,” Akhtar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

“If you look at players like Virat, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson... all these guys accelerate their scoring after reaching fifty. Babar should learn from them. He should have more range of shots,” he added.

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Compact player

Akhtar, however, showered praise on Haris Sohail, who scored a 59-ball 89 during Pakistan’s convincing 49-run win over South Africa in its crucial World Cup fixture in London on Sunday. Babar chipped in with 69 off 80 deliveries.

“I was constantly saying that Haris Sohail should be included in the playing XI because he is a very compact player. Against South Africa, he showed how to score runs. In fact, he looked better than Babar Azam.

“Haris provided the thrust and helped Pakistan get a total in excess of 300. Haris Sohail was a great addition and Shoaib Malik was dropped which was a fair call,” said Akhtar.

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Slim chance

The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ hoped that Pakistan will continue to play fearless cricket in the remaining matches and sneak into the semifinals.

“I recommend Pakistan to hold their ground, play pressure-free cricket, play according to the best of their abilities and display their talent.

“Pakistan have a good chance of making it to the semifinals. If England lose their three matches against Australia, India and New Zealand, Pakistan can come through,” said Akhtar.

With five points from six games, Pakistan still has an outside chance of making the last four stage. It will next play New Zealand, followed by Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

If Pakistan manages to win all three of its remaining games and other results go in its favour, it could make the cut.

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Poor fielding

The 43-year-old applauded Pakistan’s bowling against South Africa. “Pakistan’s bowling was very good. (Mohammad) Amir picked up wickets upfront and that was crucial. Pakistan have raised alarming bells for other teams as their bowlers - Wahab Riaz and Amir - have been able to get the ball to reverse.”

Akhtar, however, was critical of Pakistan’s fielding. “They dropped as many as seven catches. They dropped fairly easy catches and that needs to be rectified. The fielding needs to be improved,” he insisted.