Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s poor form was a characteristic feature of their campaign in the Asia Cup, which ended in a defeat to an unheralded Sri Lanka team in the final. Pakistan lost the match by by 23 runs, with Babar managing to muster only five runs off six balls. He thus finished with a total of 68 runs scored in six outings during the continental showpiece. Speaking on The ICC Review, former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene labelled the 27-year-old’s batting form as a ‘concern’.
“The way Babar has been batting the last two years, for him to have a tournament like that is a concern. But I think he is still a quality player”, he said. “Probably the occasion being, you know, part of an Asia Cup, and not that often that India and Pakistan play each other as well. So maybe the whole pressure got to him a little bit, I would say. But he is still a quality player.”
“Pakistan did miss him with the bat because Rizwan and him at the top are a very, very consistent opening pair. The success of Pakistan over the last two years has been on that foundation, where all the big-hitters come in the middle and they (Babar and Rizwan) give that platform and they take it on. That’s something that they missed, but all good players go through some lean patch. I’m sure he will go back and go through his processes and come back stronger.”
The Sri Lanka legend also pointed out that Babar’s poor form wasn’t due to the bowlers being able to figure him out. Jayawardene explained that Babar’s dismissals were due to a couple of good balls and some soft dismissals. Giving advice to the stylish batter, he said, “When you have a quality player like that, try and not put pressure on him. I’m sure there would have been a lot of discussion about his form in the Asia Cup and all that. But leading into the World Cup, you want your best player to be confident and relaxed, going into the World Cup.”
“So as long as they are not putting undue pressure on him, that’s the important thing. Being the captain and being the best batsman in your team, it is not an easy task. That’s something that he has to live up to.”
The 45-year-old former cricketer also mentioned that Babar will need to separate his captaincy responsibility from his batting ‘going into the World Cup’. “These two responsibilities have to be managed separately, and that’s key to being a good player and then being a captain of the team,” he said.