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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Babar Azam can topple Joe Root as the best Test batter: Jayawardena

"He's a naturally gifted player," says Mahela Jayawardena for Babar Azam. After Virat Kohli, Babar Azam soon to challenge Joe Root.

Sri Lanka’s former captain Mahela Jayawardena says Pakistan’s Babar Azam has the ability to topple England’s Joe Root from the best batter in Test matches.

Joe Root has been sitting on the top of the ICC Men’s Test ranking since June and is also having a World Test Championship. The batter is in excellent form since the start of 2020 and was awarded the best ICC Men’s Test Player of the Year award in 2021. Despite his continued form, Jayawardena still believes Babar Azam is a threat to Joe Root.

“Tough one!” Jayawardena said. “I would say Babar Azam has an opportunity. He’s been consistent in all three formats and it shows in his rankings. He’s a naturally gifted player, plays in all conditions, he’s got the game to adapt as well.

“It depends on the amount of cricket, who’s playing when, and how much but the Babar might be the guy.”

Babar Azam is in the top three across all formats and with his consistent performance, he can give tough competition to Babar Azam.

Read more: Babar Azam retains first spot in ICC T20I rankings

“T20Is and ODIs, it is a tough one to hold on to because there are a lot of good players who have to be consistent,” Jayawardena said.

“As long as he can be that, because he has a very good role to play in that Pakistan setup – they have batters to bat around him, so he can play his own game – he should be able to hold on to that and at the same time, push himself to get better.

“He batted really well in Sri Lanka. I think Prabath (Jayasuriya) was his nemesis – he got him three times out of the four innings. That was a very good battle to watch. Babar got a really good hundred in the first Test match.

“He’s always going to push himself to get better. Seen in a couple of his interviews recently that it is his goal as well to be No 1 across the table. There’s no harm in challenging yourself to get there.

“Being the captain as well, he has taken responsibility and performed, which is great to see. (It’s) Not an easy thing to do.

“I would put my money on him at least for a little while to hold to all three but there are some good quality players around who will keep pushing him.”

England will be playing against South Africa but Babar Azam will have to wait for some time before he could get to perform in Test matches in the upcoming series against England scheduled.