Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar Monday said Virat Kohli fan Babar Azam should learn to play like his "idol" and convert good starts into big knocks by adapting to match situations the way the Indian captain does.
Akhtar said while Azam has been scoring some crucial runs for Pakistan, he fails to go the full distance. He suggested that Azam should learn to play like his idol, Virat Kohli. He added that Azam lacks the ability to rotate the strike, which is crucial to put pressure on the opposition. According to Akhtar, Azam needs to develop an instinct to improvise and play important innings in pressure situations as Kohli does.
"If you look at players like Virat, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson...all these guys accelerate their scoring after reaching fifty. Babar should learn from them. He should have more range of shots," said Akhtar.
Akhtar, however, showered praise on Haris Sohail, who scored a 59-ball 89 during Pakistan's convincing 49-run win over South Africa in their crucial World Cup fixture here on Sunday. Babar chipped in with 69 off 80 deliveries.
"I was constantly saying that Haris Sohail should be included in the playing XI because he is a very compact player. Against South Africa, he showed how to score runs. In fact, he looked better than Babar Azam. Haris provided the thrust and helped Pakistan get a total in excess of 300. Haris Sohail was a great addition and Shoaib Malik was dropped which was a fair call," said Akhtar.
The 'Rawalpindi Express' hoped that Pakistan will continue to play fearless cricket in the remaining games of the World Cup and somehow sneak into the semi-finals. Akhtar urged the Pakistan Cricket team to play pressure-free cricket and capitalize on their strengths. He added that if Pakistan win all their games and if England lose their three matches against Australia, India and New Zealand, Pakistan can make it into the semi-finals stage of the ongoing World Cup
The 43-year-old applauded Pakistan's bowling against South Africa, saying the attacks managed to get the ball to reverse swing and have raised alarming bells for other teams. Akhtar also mentioned that Mohammad Amir taking wickets early on is very crucial.
Akhtar, however, was critical of Pakistan's fielding.
"They dropped as many as seven catches. They dropped fairly easy catches and that needs to be rectified. The fielding needs to be improved," he insisted.
With five points from six games, Pakistan still have an outside chance of making the last four stage. They will next be playing New Zealand, followed by Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
(with inputs from PTI)