In the recent past, we have always tended to talk a lot about the Fab 4. There’s absolutely no doubt that Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root are ruling the roast across all formats. Their consistency has been remarkable over the last few years. In fact, they have dominated in most places they’ve played.
However, there is a certain Babar Azam who has done really well across formats as well. He averages in excess of 50 in white-ball cricket (both ODIs and T20Is). In fact, he has the third-most hundreds by a Pakistani batsman in ODI cricket. Moreover, no player who has played at least 20 innings in T20Is has a better average than Azam. In Test cricket, he had a slow start but he is now slowly but surely coming up the ranks.
Thus, there’s absolutely no doubt that he is one of the most promising batsmen in world cricket at the moment. He’s been in fabulous form in recent times and has been striking the ball beautifully. Hence, here we look at five bowlers who can neutralize the threat that Babar Azam brings.
1. Jasprit Bumrah
There’s absolutely no doubt that Jasprit Bumrah is currently one of the best bowlers across all formats in world cricket. When he first burst on to the international scene in 2016, a lot of people didn’t expect him to go way. However, he has proved a lot of them wrong as he’s become India’s premier bowler across all formats.
Bumrah started out as a white-ball specialist for India. He was excellent with the new ball and fabulous at the death. However, his red-ball skills were questioned. But he overcame those odds as well. The Gujarat lad has been churning out wickets in Test cricket ever since his debut.
Bumrah and Azam have faced off in a few ODI games over the last couple of years. However, the Pakistan No. 3 hasn’t faced India’s premier fast bowler a lot. In fact, Bumrah has bowled just 26 deliveries to Azam and 16 of them have been dots. However, he hasn’t dismissed the Pakistan batsman even once. But the Indian pace ace has all the ingredients to get past Azam. Irrespective of the format or the stage of the game, Bumrah has the game to come out on top.
2. Jofra Archer
Over the last few months, there’s just one name circling around England cricket and that is Jofra Archer. This was his first season in international cricket and he has already had a massive impact. Be it white-ball or red-ball cricket, Archer has already become England’s premier fast bowler.
Having played four Tests, 14 ODIs and one T20I this season, the Barbados-born pacer has already caused a lot of trouble. He has a wonderful accuracy and he is very quick through the air as well. He can extract movement at a high pace which has troubled the batsmen. Moreover, Archer is a brilliant death bowler as well. Hence, he can bowl anywhere and anytime.
Archer has bowled 30 balls to Azam so far in international cricket and the Pakistan star has come out on top so far. He has scored 26 runs and hasn’t been dismissed even once against Archer. However, the latest England pace sensation will surely come back strongly the next time the duo face off. He has the ability to rattle Azam and knock him over.
3. Pat Cummins
Pat Cummins and Babar Azam have faced off only in ODI cricket. Here, in this battle, Azam has been the winner so far. However, Cummins bowled most of the deliveries more than two and a half years ago (January 2017). The New South Wales quick has improved leaps and bounds since then. In fact, he is the No. 1 ranked Test bowler and the No. 4 ranked ODI bowler at the moment.
Cummins made his debut back in 2011 but injuries kept him out of the side for a long time. However, since 2017, he’s been Australia’s best bowler. He has toiled hard and has reaped rewards as well. He may not move the ball a great deal. But his pace and bounce has troubled some of the best players in the world.
Azam may have been dismissed only once by Cummins before but the Australian ace pacer can surely get the better of Azam. He will have a chance to challenge the Pakistan star later in the Australian summer as Pakistan play two Test matches in their first assignment of the World Test Championship.
4. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav is the only spinner in this list. Babar Azam plays spin very well. The way he uses his feet and rotates strike in the middle overs has been one of his strengths. However, Kuldeep has had the better of the Pakistan No. 3 every time the duo has faced each other.
Kuldeep has been one of the big reasons for India’s white-ball success over the last few years. He has been a force and his ability to give India regular breakthroughs in the middle overs has been excellent. He may be out of favour at the moment, but he has had Azam in trouble every time he has bowled to the Lahore-born cricketer.
The first time Azam faced Kuldeep was in last year’s Asia Cup and he was completely bamboozled by the chinaman’s wrong one which knocked over his off-stump. Earlier this year, the duo met again in the World Cup and Kuldeep once again broke the defence of Azam as he produced a ripping leg-break to go through bat and pad and knock over the stumps. Thus, Azam has struggled against Kuldeep and hence, the chinaman is one of the bowlers who can neutralize Azam.
5. Trent Boult
For the last few years, season after season, Trent Boult has been running in and bowling his heart out across formats for New Zealand. He has been their torch-bearer and the leader of the attack. However, he often goes under the radar and doesn’t get as much attention as the likes of Bumrah, Cummins, Archer and Rabada get.
Boult is very accurate and can move the ball at pace. His left-arm angle also troubles the batsmen. His ability to switch formats and yet be successful is remarkable. The left-arm Kiwi pacer is always lurking around in the top 10 rankings for bowlers.
Hence, Boult has the ability to get the better of Azam and has also done that in the past. The left-armer has dismissed the Pakistan No. 3 once in Test cricket and twice in ODI cricket (all three dismissals came in 2018). Hence, there’s no reason why Boult can come out on top once again when these two face off the next time.
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