Top-order batsman is likely to hold the key to Pakistan’s hopes of a successful campaign
Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower has tipped gifted youngster Babar Azam to emerge as one of the best batsmen at the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.
Babar showed his vast potential by smashing 63 from 66 balls to lead the Pakistan assault as they piled on 348-8 in their shock win over tournament favourites England on Monday.
The 24-year-old has already made an impact since his debut in 2016, having scored 2,824 runs in 66 one-day internationals at an impressive average of 51.34.
But he can underline his qualities in front of a global audience if he continues to shine at the World Cup in England and Wales.
Flower believes Pakistan's batting will continue to flourish after a nervy start in their World Cup opener against the West Indies.
Babar is likely to hold the key to their hopes of a successful campaign and, speaking ahead of Friday's match against Sri Lanka in Bristol, Flower said: "Babar has come a long way. His game is improving all the time.
"He's going to develop even more, close to being at the top of his game, he is really exciting and he is going to be one of the best players in the world."
Pakistan were shot out for a paltry 105 against the West Indies last Friday, before a far much impressive effort against England at the same Trent Bridge venue.
Flower said the two contrasting performances showed Pakistan's unpredictability and inconsistency.
"I would say it's a bit of a both," said Flower, who along with his elder brother Andy formed the backbone of the Zimbabwe team in 1990s.
"Yeah, we didn't adapt well to the conditions against West Indies. Technically, we were a bit poor on the day. And I think there were a lot of nerves being the first World Cup match definitely.
"Then the guys got over that against England and they showed their proper skills and it was a true test of character. They came through with flying colours in the second game."
Pakistan's batsmen showed remarkable improvement in their recent series against England when they became the first team ever to post 340-plus totals in three consecutive ODIs.
But Flower has warned his players not to underestimate Sri Lanka, who like Pakistan, have lost and won a game in this World Cup.
"You have always got to be respectful and they have got good bowlers. And, hopefully, the weather stays away, it is a bit poor, the forecast," he said, with Friday set for persistent rain throughout the day.