Ahead of Australia’s upcoming three-Test series against Pakistan, veteran opener Usman Khawaja drew parallels between the batting prowess of Babar Azam and Virat Kohli, highlighting the exciting prospect of witnessing their clash during the series. Azam enters the series following a disappointing performance in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, which led to his resignation as captain across all formats. In contrast, Smith joins the series fresh off Australia’s World Cup victory in Ahmedabad.
“Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen in all three formats,” Usman Khawaja remarked to reporters. “Steve Smith is the greatest batsman of our era. When they both will be playing here in the Benaud-Qadir series, it would be exciting. Matching Babar with Smith is almost like matching Smith with Kohli.”
Acknowledging Azam’s ability to score runs overseas, Usman Khawaja praised his achievements, stating, “One of the great things about Babar is he does not score only in Pakistan; he scores runs overseas as well. He has scored a hundred here in the past.”
Khawaja also addressed the challenge posed by Pakistan’s fast bowlers, particularly Shaheen Shah Afridi, in Australian conditions.
“I think Shaheen Shah and Mitchell Starc, both are very fast bowlers, and both can bowl up to 145. We know Starc can swing the new ball,” Usman Khawaja observed. “Shaheen has a very good wrist. He definitely swings the ball. When it’s overcast in Australian conditions, if a fast bowler is swinging the ball, it makes our job as an opener a bit tough. This is what you rebel for, this is what you play for,” he added.
Despite Pakistan’s historical struggles in Test series against Australia, Khawaja cautioned against complacency, recognizing their current strength as a team.
“Pakistan is one of the better teams in the world,” he asserted. “They have good batting and always have great fast bowlers. Looking at the past teams, I think this is the strongest Pakistan batting lineup coming over,” Usman Khawaja continued. “Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen in the world. Imam ul Haq and Abdullah Shafique have scored a lot of runs. I am very excited about this challenge.”
Following the opening Test in Perth from December 14-18, Pakistan’s remaining two Tests in Australia will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26-30) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (January 3-7, 2024).