The last time Babar Azam came to Australia one wasn’t sure about his abilities in Test cricket, and three years later he finished as Pakistan’s best batsman with 210 runs while the rest failed to impress.
While Pakistan’s losing streak in Tests in Australia soared to 14 matches and they dropped all three T20 matches, Babar’s challenging run three years earlier steeled him to succeed against the home side.
“Three years ago, I didn’t have much experience. You gain it by playing at international level,” Babar told cricket.com.au.
“You study yourself and your opponents. The mistakes I made in the first year were in my mind and I worked on those.
“I have been to Australia before, so I had an idea about the bounce and conditions here. In a week before this tour, I practiced to manage the bounce. Then the practice games here helped me a lot.
“Every ground here has a different wicket – like in Adelaide the pitch was little slow but in Brisbane it was fast.”
After a difficult start to his Test career, the last two years where he has played 12 games have reflected his overall progress as a batsman.
“The confidence that you get from scoring runs in Australia is something that maybe you don’t get anywhere else,” he said.
“Australia also have a top bowling attack. You gain lot of confidence if you are scoring runs against the bowlers like (Mitchell) Starc, (Pat) Cummins and (Josh) Hazlewood. You have to pass many phases and that teaches you how to bat with patience.”
The Pakistani batsman, who’s been praised Ricky Ponting in recent times, is an admirer of Justin Langer.
“I asked Langer couple of things. I asked him how he used to bat in his time and how he used to handle the pressure,” Babar said.
“He is a legend and played lot of cricket for Australia. He shared many things with me which I can use to my advantage. I will try to pick his suggestions and apply on my batting.”
While he passed his Australian Test with flying colours, Babar played down any comparisons with the likes of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root or Kane Williamson.
“I don’t think comparison is valid at this stage. I haven’t played much, while the other players have played quite a lot. I have only played 23 Tests and (74) ODIs,” he said.
“When I started cricket, my goal was to compete with the best. I wanted to do well for my country and to be among the top five batsmen in the world.
“My mindset was to complete with the 4-5 best batsmen in the world. You can produce good performances, but to maintain consistency you need lot of hard work.”