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Virat Kohli is the No. 1 batsman in the world, I shouldn’t be compared with him, says Babar Azam

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur compared 23-year-old Babar Azam with a young Virat Kohli.

Virat Kohli has risen to the top levels in world cricket following strong performances across formats. He sits second in the Test rankings, top in ODI and T20I rankings and his numbers are often used to compare to other stars in the game. Steve Smith, top ranked Test batsman, Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers, Joe Root are often named as the leading batsmen in world cricket. Kohli’s rise from a young and determined batsman to a composed head as India skipper in all formats of the game has further earned him higher praise.

Across the border, Babar Azam has emerged as one of the rising stars of the game and earned plenty of plaudits by former and current stars. He has also been compared to Kohli by Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur with both coming to bat at No.3 spot aiding the match-up. But the 23-year-old is not keen on being drawn into the comparison. Arthur had said that Azam reminded him of a younger Kohli. “He compared me with a very big player. I think it shouldn’t be done. But that is the coach’s thinking. Maybe the stats at the start of our careers are similar, but he is the No. 1 batsman in the world. I want to perform at a high level for Pakistan too,” said Azam in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.

He further explained that he follows Kohli, Hashim Amla and his batting hero de Villiers. “I loved watching AB de Villiers in the early days. I used to follow him closely. I copied him a lot too. In the nets, I used to at least try some of the shots he played in the matches. I play normally. Nowadays I follow Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, and of course, de Villiers,” he said.

In the India vs Pakistan Champions Trophy Final, Azam scored 46 runs off 52 balls where the Men in Green went on to claim the title in June earlier this year. The right-handed Azam has played 36 ODIs so far in his career, scoring 1,758 runs at an average of 58.60. He has seven half-centuries and seven hundreds to his name. In the longest format, he has played 11 matches but hasn’t had the same impact with 475 runs at an average of 23.75.

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