Faf Du Plessis, South African and Peshawar Zalmi’s batsman believes that Pakistan’s prolific batsman Babar Azam has the ability to become one of the greats of the game while praising his recent T20 form.
Talking to Cricket Pakistan in an exclusive interview, the former skipper of South Africa admitted that Babar Azam had been a surprise to a lot of people with his T20 credentials as experts often compare him with Indian star batsman skipper Virat Kohli.
Faf Du Plessis See Similarity Between Virat Kohli And Babar Azam
Babar Azam averages around 50 in T20Is and 55 in ODIs and is leading run-scorer in PSL 2020 with 410 runs in 11 matches averaging 51.25. He is ranked second after England’s Dawid Malan in T20 rankings with 871 points. He is also third in ODI rankings with 837 points.
“I do [see similarity between Kohli and Babar]. They are extremely high quality players. Babar, over the last year or so, has taken another step towards becoming one of the greats of the game so he has got an exciting future,” said Du Plessis.
“I think he surprised a lot of people with his T20 cricket. People would have originally boxed him as a guy that hasn’t got a lot of power but certainly of late his T20 game has been remarkable.”
The 36-year-old batsman also recalled his tours of Pakistan with the World XI, a side which he captained, in 2017 and the under-19 team.
“The last time I was here was for the World XI game which was really great to be a part of,” he said.
“The biggest thing for me was seeing the fans and how much it meant to them that cricket was being played in Pakistan again. It was a great part of my journey as a cricketer.”
“It [under-19 tour] was a long time ago, I think it was 15 years ago or something like that. Back then we were also at the National Stadium in Karachi and to see the stadium after a really long time feels surreal,” he added.
Pakistan won the 1st and 3rd matches while World XI won the second match in that 2017 tour consisting of 3 T20Is. Babar Azam was the highest scorer with 179 runs averaging 59.67 while Faf Du Plessis managed only 62 runs averaging a pathetic 20.67. The squad of World XI comprised of David Miller, Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir, Paul Collingwood and Darren Sammy to name a few.
Faf Du Plessis: Standard Of Pakistan Super League High
The right-handed batsman also praised the standard of cricket in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
“I have followed the league in South Africa on TV and I have talked to a lot players who have played in the league who are of the opinion that the standard of the league is really high and especially the fast-bowling. It’s good to be finally coming over and play some cricket in the PSL,” he said.
He also opened up on playing cricket without fans in the stadiums amidst Covid-19 pandemic which led to postponements and cancellations of various cricketing events with lockdowns being imposed. IPL 2020 was held without fans abroad in UAE.
“I don’t think so but it feels different because the energy you draw from the crowd is not there but once you get into the battle with the opposition it feels like normal business. So it’s almost the same but not quiet,” he said.
Faf Du Plessis is also optimistic about touring Pakistan later with the national side, early next year.
“That’s [South Africa tour of Pakistan] on the cards at the moment. I think the time frame is around February and CSA is working with the PCB hand in hand to get that tour over the line but like I said I have been here a few times and we would gladly play our part in getting cricket back to Pakistan,” he concluded.
In Pakistan Super League, first and second semi-finals were postponed due to coronavirus pandemic on March 17, 2020, and Qualifier, 2 Eliminators and final have been arranged from November 14 to November 17. Karachi Kings won 1st Qualifier, and Lahore Qalanders won 1st Eliminator to set up an encounter with Multan Sultans in 2nd Eliminator while Karachi Kings are already through the finals.