‘Emperor’ Babar Azam ready to conquer cricketing world


DUBAI: He was the fresh-faced 15-year-old who stared down Shoaib Akhtar in the nets, became the highest-ranked T20 batsman in the world before being elevated to national hero after masterminding a rare Pakistan victory over India.

In the breathless aftermath of that 10-wicket win over their fiercest rivals at the World Cup, the national cricket captain was even likened by one commentator to emperor Zahiruddin Babar who conquered India in the 16th century and founded the Mughal Dynasty.

Fortunately for Pakistan, the unassuming 27-year-old Babar Azam has his feet firmly on the ground.

He has guided his team to five wins in five games at the T20 showpiece and a semi-final clash against Australia in Dubai on Thursday.

Along the way, he has piled up a tournament-leading 264 runs.

On Sunday, against Scotland, he hit his fourth half century of the competition.

It all started with a brilliant unbeaten 68 against India.

That innings, in tandem with fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan’s 79 not out, gave Pakistan their first win over their arch-rivals in 13 World Cup matches.

He then scored 51 against Afghanistan and 70 against Namibia — innings that helped him regain the number one spot in the international T20 rankings.

“Obviously it’s a proud moment,” said Babar.

“The focus on the goal and hard work are behind this and I want to improve day by day.”

In April this year, Babar also ended Indian maestro Virat Kohli’s three-year tenure as number one ODI batsman with scores of 103, 32 and 94 in a three-match series in South Africa which Pakistan won 2-1.