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Shahid Afridi backs ‘consistent’ Babar Azam amid rough patch

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MELBOURNE: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi came out in support of Babar Azam during the latter’s rough patch with the bat in 2023.

Ace Pakistan batter Babar Azam has been out of form, especially in Test cricket since the start of the year 2023.

The right-handed batter played five matches in the ongoing year and could only yield 204 runs at a dismal average of 22.66 with the highest score of 41.

He also could not score a single half-century in the longest format in 2023.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s legendary all-rounder Shahid Afridi was unfazed by Babar Azam’s dismal Test stats this year and asserted that he is one of the most consistent batters ever produced by the country.

I rate Babar Azam very highly and so does the world,” stated Afridi.

“He is the backbone of Pakistan’s batting lineup. The best batters lose form, but I have seen such consistent batters very rarely in Pakistan cricket,” he added.

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Shahid Afridi also refuted concerns regarding Shaheen Afridi carrying an injury despite a significant pace drop in the left-arm pacer’s bowling while also highlighting the need to invest in the team’s bench strength rather than in individuals.

“I’ve never got the impression that Shaheen has an injury. If you’re injured you can’t play as a fast bowler. He knows his responsibility and how important he is to the team. The fast bowlers, we are expecting a lot from them because they’ve done well in the past.

“Babar, Rizwan, Shaheen etc. have performed so well we expect them to perform in every match. Relentless consistency is challenging in cricket.

“I have always said that unless our bench is strong we won’t be able to take the best decisions.

“The A team should be as strong as the main team, so if Shaheen or Babar or Rizwan aren’t strong, we shouldn’t have the excuses of players being unavailable, like we do with Naseem now. When our bench is strong, we will no longer have excuses.”

The former all-rounder also commented on Haris Rauf’s self-imposed absence from the Australia tour and stated that he should have been a part of this Pakistan team.

“I think Haris [Rauf] should be part of this side instead rather than [the BBL],” Afridi, speaking to media at the MCG, said.

“In these conditions, the kind of pace he has, he would have performed well and enjoyed himself on the kinds of pitches Australia prepared in Perth and here.”

READ: Babar Azam, Steve Smith share a funny interaction in Boxing Day Test

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