ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Skipper Babar Azam has learnt by heart the advice of his school-time coach ‘Mama G’ saying he taught him to spend as much time on the ground, as it rewards you back. “He taught me, for the time you spend on the ground, it rewards you back with as much. You should give your 100 percent in practice. For example if the net practice starts at 2 O’ Clock you should be there before time without any excuses,” he said in an interview on Cricbuzz. The young prolific batsman, who as of April 2020 has scored 16 international centuries, five in Test matches and 11 in ODIs, said Mama G used to say one thing, which was if you were the opener, than you should look to play the first ball as well as the last. “He explained me that you will face a lot of phases while playing first to the last ball. You will face spinners, the new and old ball. This way you will score individually and as well as for the team,” he said. To a question on comparison with Indian batsman Virat Kohli, Babar said Kohli was one of the best out there, whereas he still has to achieve a lot in the game. “I will try to be like him and win matches for my team. I don’t make runs to compete with others I make runs to prove it to myself. If you observe Asian batsman have similar action and stroke play,” he said. Babar, who was the leading Test run scorer for Pakistan in both 2018 and 2019 and leading ODI scorer in 2016, 2017 and 2019, said Pak-India matches were always high-intensity games and the whole world waits for this encounter. “It is interesting and we do try to perform our best but there is no additional pressure during the Pak-India game. We take it like any other normal game,” he said. Talking about Pakistan’s tour to England, he said playing behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be like playing a first-class match. “It will be very difficult to play without the crowd. It will feel like playing a first-class match. We will miss the crowd as players enjoy when people and kids come to the grounds. You also cannot shine the ball as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) guidelines,” Babar said. About the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, Babar said we were missing the game at home. “It’s a different type of feeling when you play in front of your home crowd and they cheer for you,” he said. Babar, who was named in the ICC ODI Team of the Year in 2017 and 2019, also picked a combined Pak-India T20 XI including openers Rohit Sharma and himself followed by Kohli, Shoaib Malik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Amir, Kuldeep Yadav.
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