There is no batsman as good as Virat Kohli in ODI cricket today. Similarly, in Tests, Steve Smith seems to be in an unassailable position. But, according to former Australian cricketer Michael Hussey, there is one man who is good enough to break into the same category as Kohli and Smith are in. That cricketer is Pakistan's Babar Azam.
The young right-hander has already earned the captaincy of the Pakistan team in T20Is though his first series as the skipper saw a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia. But, his ODI record is highly impressive and, after struggling a bit, the Test numbers are also getting better.
Babar is currently in Australia for his team's tour of that country. He has already given a sneak peek of his quality by scoring 157 in Pakistan's warm-up match against Australia 'A' side. Now, the 25-years old has received the ultimate praise from the man known as 'Mr Cricket' – Michael Huseey.
Speaking to host broadcasters of cricket in Australia – Fox Sports – Hussey stated: "I honestly believe this guy (Babar) can be in the same conversation when we start talking about the best players in the world," Hussey was quoted as saying by Fox Sports. We start talking about (Virat) Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root gets floated around. I think if he can start putting together some big hundreds like this in the Test arena, he's that good ... he's a brilliant, brilliant player."
Babar got his ODI career off to a great start and scored hundreds for fun. One of his earliest series saw him getting three centuries in a row against West Indies. Currently, Azam's record stands at 74 ODIs, 11 hundreds, 3359 runs at an average of 54.2.
In the longer format, this bright talent has played 21 games and has managed 1235 runs at an average of 35.3 with there being only one hundred. But the innings he played against Australia A suggests that the upcoming series in Australia will see some good performances from him.
Getting close to the prolificacy of Virat and Steve won't be easy for the youngster from Lahore. Kohli has been on a record-breaking spree over the last couple of years in 50-overs cricket while Smith too has shown incredible consistency. Moreover, while he has been getting hundreds regularly, the youngster hasn't batted with the same flair that the Indian captain displays.
In order for Azam to be regarded as among the best, he will have to start dominating bowling attacks. That is one aspect of his play that is yet to mature.