Ponting warns Australia of Babar threat

Updated November 20, 2019

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BABAR Azam bats in the nets ahead of the first Test.—PCB
BABAR Azam bats in the nets ahead of the first Test.—PCB

BRISBANE: Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has lauded Babar Azam as Pakistan’s dangerman ahead of the upcoming Test series beginning in Brisbane on Thursday.

Babar is world’s No.3 batsman in ODIs as well the No.1 T20 batsman. However, despite his modest career Test batting average of 35.28, Ponting is backing the 25-year-old top-order batsman to take a major leap in the coming years.

“We haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “Twenty-odd Tests for an average of 35 he’s better than that. He averages 54 in ODI cricket at a strike-rate of about 90. He’s a very, very classy player.

“He’s a really exciting talent and probably the guy I’m looking forward to seeing the most this summer. I’ve seen the Aussies a lot and I’ve seen a lot of the Kiwis, but I’m really excited to see him. He could be anything,” Ponting said.

Babar has already shown his class in Pakistan’s tour matches in the lead-up to the Gabba Test, with a classy 157 against Australia ‘A’ last week.

The prolific right-hander was part of Pakistan’s touring party to Australia three years ago but struggled in the No.3 spot, and Ponting said the key to Babar’s success was keeping him away from the new ball.

“What they’ve tried with him before obviously hasn’t worked [because] when you watch him bat, he’s better than a 35 average,” he said.

“If they can massage him and help him through a little bit, keep him away from the new ball a little bit in Australia, then I think they’ll get the best out of him.”

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019