Azam Khan, the Islamabad United star batsman of the hour, came to the defense of Peshawar Zalmi’s Babar Azam after their PSL match on Thursday. Despite Babar’s half-century in just 33 balls, Zalmi suffered a batting collapse in the latter half of the innings, with Hasan Ali taking three crucial wickets. Azam Khan defended Babar’s approach, acknowledging that cricket is a game of uncertainties and that the Zalmi skipper had played his natural game.
The very next day, Azam Khan showed his own batting prowess, smashing an impressive 97 runs from just 42 balls against Quetta Gladiators. After United lost three early wickets, Azam’s blazing knock helped turn the game around, with an astonishing strike rate of 230.95.
During a post-match press conference, he was asked about the difference in his approach compared to that of Babar Azam. He explained that opening and middle-order positions require different approaches, with the latter having fewer balls to play with. He acknowledged that strike rate is more important than averages, especially in T20 cricket, where impact is crucial.
“Opening is a different position, middle order is different. Middle order has lesser balls to play with. Either you’ll be 40 for 4 in the powerplay, or you’ll be 120 for 3 and you’ll have to finish things off,” he said.
“It is a very tricky number, people normally see averages in this regard but the main thing is strike rate. If you look at the top power hitters in the world, their averages don’t matter. T20 is all about impact. Babar bhai is right, that if your team is six down then at the end you have to carry your team. I think criticizing a world-class player is unfair, my mindset is different when I play,” he added.
He was also asked why, despite his best efforts, he does not end up getting selected as a part of the cricket team. “To be very honest, like you already know every player has a dream of playing in the Pakistani team. We do try but sometimes due to circumstances we don’t get selected. Then we get disheartened. But in the end, the one thing you do have in your control is your performance. The better you perform, the better it is for you and your game,” he explained.
“According to me, if a person is mentally strong, he has the power to do everything. As far as record centuries are concerned, we tried our best to complete the century, but unfortunately, we missed the ball and couldn’t complete the century. That was the only ball in the entire inning that we missed. But you know, the century has a different feeling. But in the end the team has won. That’s what matters most,” he added about their recent win.
Azam also shared how he considers his father, former cricketer Moin Khan, his role model. “My role model is my father, who has made me so mentally tough. But he’s never satisfied. I try my best to play better to satisfy him. But in the end I would like to thank him,” he said.
“A person should never be satisfied with their performance. And we should always strive for the better. If you perform well once, there should be a hunger for an even better performance. A lot of credit goes to my father who has taught me so much about techniques and how to take tactical decisions on the basis of which, the teams are able to win,” he added.