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Mickey Arthur in awe of Babar Azam

Right-handed batsman played a classy innings of 90 runs in second T20I against South Africa

PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Pakistan Head Coach Mickey Arthur has praised top-order batsman Babar Azam’s and hoped that he would end up in top-five modern great batsmen in all forms of cricket very soon.

Azam played a great knock of 90 runs in the second T20I against South Africa in Johannesburg — an innings which was full of class and confidence.

Talking to media after the match, Arthur said: "I think he will be in the top five [batsmen] of the world very soon across all formats. I thought I was a bit quick off the gun when I said two years ago that he would be almost as good as Virat Kohli but it has taken him a while to show that class. But if you watched him in the nets couple of years ago, he was a young boy who has developed into a young man, he's got stronger and fitter and his game gets better and better all the time."

Arthur also thinks that the best of Azam is yet to come and he is only going to improve in the future.

"I have never doubted Babar Azam, he keeps on getting better and better and the exciting thing for us is that we haven’t seen the best of Azam yet,” he said. “He has been unbelievable on this tour. There have been question marks around Azam outside the sub-continent but I think he's put those to rest now.”

Commenting on Pakistan’s first series defeat in T20Is since 2016, the 50-year-old thinks that South Africa bowled better in last 10 overs which made the difference.

"They bowled the second 10 overs better than the first 10, they took the pace off but yes, for a neutral these have been two good games but for us they haven’t been that good at all," he said.

The coach also criticised bowlers for below par performance in the game which cost them the series.

"To be brutally honest with ourselves, I thought we batted exceptionally well but we bowled very poorly today. As a unit, apart from Imad Wasim who was obviously outstanding, the rest of the bowling unit was poor,” he said. “That is something we will have to look at; we didn’t execute well; I think there were 64 runs scored off short deliveries although our game plan was full strength wicket to wicket so 64 runs [off short balls] was not good enough from them. The execution in the last over was particularly poor."

After third T20I in Centurion on February 6, the Men in Green will play five-match ODI series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).