With less than 24 hours left before the blockbuster Asia Cup clash between India and Pakistan at the Pallekele International Stadium in Sri Lanka, discussions and debate around Virat Kohli and Babar Azam, and picking the better batter between the two have already begun. In a discussion on Star Sports, former cricketers in Sanjay Manjrekar and Tom Moody had given their verdict last week. It’s time for Pakistan legend Wasim Akram to have his say and he made a mic-drop remark on the the debate.
Babar has already made a stunning start to his Asia Cup campaign, having clobbered 151 runs in Pakistan’s emphatic win against qualifier and debutant Nepal in the tournament’s opener. It was Babar’s 19th century in ODI career, one short of having the most-ever in Pakistan cricket. It was also his second score of 150 or more in an ODI match after hitting 158 against England in Birmingham in 2021. Meanwhile, Kohli is yet to start his Asia Cup campaign and is raring to go up against his favourite opponent against whom he had scored a match-winning 82 in Melbourne in the T20 World Cup last year.
Speaking to Fox Cricket, Akrma was asked to pick the better batter between the two and knowing that he might face criticism from his countrymen, he picked Kohli, although hailing Babar as a “modern-day great”.
“It is a very difficult decision, that is why I don’t become a selector. I’ll probably get a lot of slack back home, but I will definitely pick Virat Kohli over Babar Azam. Babar is on the way, there is no doubt. He is one of the modern greats, but it will take some time. He will catch up, but it will take time,” Akram said.
Shaheen had missed the tournament last year owing to an injury, but made an impressive comeback this year with figures of 2 for 27 in five overs. Bumrah, on the other hand, has been out of action since the Asia Cup last year before making a return to the sport only in last month in the T20I series against Ireland.
Asked to pick between the two star pacers, Akram picked the left-armer. While he was full of praise for his bowling, Akram also hailed his batting abilities as well.
“I will choose Shaheen Shah Afridi over Jasprit Bumrah. Being a left-arm pacer, he reminds me of Starc, both of them bowl early on and they pitch it full and go for the wickets. That is what I like about him. He has got a bright future ahead of him as long as he is clear of serious injuries. He has improved his batting as well at No.9 and No.10, he can come in and whack a couple of sixes. He is a genuine wicket taker and that is why I believe that he is one of the most important members of the team,” Akram continued.