Shane Watson warns India over Babar Azam’s form ahead of Cricket World Cup clash with Pakistan

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam during a practice session

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Former Australian cricketer Shane Watson is confident that Pakistan skipper Babar Azam will return to his best form when his side takes on arch-rivals India this weekend in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

Azam has had a poor start in the ongoing 50-over World Cup in India, having managed just scores of five and 10 in Pakistan’s first two games of the tournament. Fortunately, Azam’s struggles have not affected Pakistan’s results so far, with the Men in Green beating the Netherlands and Sri Lanka in Hyderabad.

Pakistan’s next match in the group stage of the World Cup is a big one as they are set to face off against hosts India at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on 14 October.

Ahead of the much-awaited match, Azam has been subjected to social media trolling for his low scores in Pakistan’s last two games. But he has received some comforting support from Watson and even former Indian wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta.

Watson, cricketer-turned-commentator, has backed Azam to bring out his best against India, saying the “class player” did not look out of touch against Sri Lanka even though he threw away his wicket early in his side’s tough chase of 345.


“Look, he’s a class player. Yes, he’s had a bit of a dry spell, Uh, five innings of less than 30 runs. So it’s the first time he’s done that since 2019. You know that things aren’t going that well, if you when that happens. So, um, Babar Azam, even the first couple of balls that he faced, you can see he’s getting in really good positions,” Watson said on Star Sports after Pakistan’s six-wicket win on Tuesday.

“He’s a world class batter. He’s going to absolutely ready to go against India. Sometimes you’re just not so much out of touch because he’s not even more badly you just out of runs.”

Babar Azam looks back after being dismissed

India’s captain Rohit Sharma and Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam during captain’s press conference on the eve of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in Ahmedabad

Dasgupta, who was also on the broadcast panel with Watson, pointed out that with other Pakistani batters now delivering for the side, Azam will be able to walk out to bat with less pressure and will be able to express his game with more freedom.

“A game (India vs Pakistan) like this could actually unleash Babar Azam the batter. You know, he’s got more confidence in the other batters now you know he’s got Abdullah Shafique. He’s got, obviously, Rizwan. Then he’s got Saud Shakeel, Iftekhar. Everyone’s contributing.

“Before this game, it seems like it’s going to be only Babar or maybe Rizwan. But now I think he’s going to go out next game, feeling a little more free, can bat like himself and not feel the pressure of the world on the shoulder,” added Dasgupta.

Mohammad Rizwan scored a century against Sri Lanka on Monday as Pakistan pulled off a record Cricket World Cup chase. Azam and Co chased down 345 runs with 10 balls and six wickets to spare against the Lankans.

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