‘Babar can replace Root as No.1 Test batter’ Mahela Jayawardene

DUBAI: Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene made a major prediction regarding the top-ranked white ball batter Babar Azam and asserted that he can replace England’s Joe Root as the World No.1 Test batter.

Jayawardene, in the latest episode of ICC Review, backed the Pakistan captain in response to the host’s question about whether Babar can replace Root as the top-ranked Test batter.

“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 is the only batter in the top three across all formats and recently revealed his goal to top the charts in each format. The right-handed batter is ranked first in both ODIs and T20Is, while is third in the longest format of the games. Jayawardene, on the other hand, expressed his belief in the ability of Pakistan and stated that the former can pull this off.

“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 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.”

It is pertinent to mention here that Root has the opportunity to solidify his hold his position as number one. Babar, however, will don the white jersey in Pakistan’s home assignment against England, later this year.

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