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How Babar Azam rode confidence and his coach’s backing to rediscover batting form

Babar Azam is back, but the Pakistan captain says he never lacked confidence in his batting even when the well ran dry.

“Once there's a lull, there's often a storm that follows. So look out, rest of the world, because I think you're about to see something very special from Babar.”

Pakistan’s head coach Matthew Hayden had warned the world what to expect from Babar in Wednesday’s semi-final. And the captain lived up to his coach’s billing.

A reprieve thanks to a dropped catch off his first ball gave Babar a chance, and he didn’t require a second invitation.

Video T20 World Cup 09 Nov 22
Babar Azam returns to form with classy half-century | Highlights | T20WC 2022
Highlights: Babar Azam returned to form with a brilliant half-century as Pakistan chased down New Zealand's total in the semi-final.

His 53 from 42 balls was a welcome return to form after what has been a tricky World Cup for the Pakistan captain.

Yet the 28-year-old says he always felt confident about his game, even as the runs dried up through the Super 12 stage.

“I’m very confident about my batting,” he told reporters after the win over New Zealand in Sydney.

“I struggled a little bit in a few matches, but I feel good, so I continue that momentum in the final.”

Video T20 World Cup 09 Nov 22
Pakistan storm into the final: Winning reactions | T20WC 2022
Pakistan players react after a thumping win over New Zealand in the T20 World Cup 2022 first semi-final.

To find momentum at such a crunch point of the tournament is huge for Babar and Pakistan.

Prior to Wednesday’s semi-final, his numbers were befuddlingly poor. In five matches he had scored just 39 runs at an average of 7.80 and a debilitating strike rate of 61.90.

And stretching further back, his 2022 stats haven’t lived up to previous heights either, with 703 runs coming at an average of 31.95 – still good but not the world-class level that had him atop the MRF Tyres ICC Men's T20I Batting Rankings in the past.

But Babar is back, just as Hayden said he would be.

"We all know that in any given career, you have significant moments of ups and downs. And the challenges and the humps along the way, they cement you and your greatness,” Hayden said prior to the semi-final.

“You can't continue to keep on punching out hundreds and 50s and strike rates of 140-plus. There's got to be moments in time where there's a lull.

"And as we all know about the weather, once there's a lull, there's often a storm that follows. So look out, rest of the world, because I think you're about to see something very special from Babar." 

Video Match Highlights 09 Nov 22
Supreme Pakistan see off New Zealand to seal Final berth | Match Highlights | T20WC 2022
Match Highlights: Pakistan beat New Zealand by seven wickets to seal their place in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 final.

Babar’s 30th career T20I half-century played a significant part in Pakistan’s seven-wicket win over the Black Caps.

His personal return to form has run in parallel to that of the team, and the skipper says Pakistan are delighted with how things have unfolded.

“It means a lot. To be honest, we did not start well, but after the South Africa match we had hope.

“After that we grabbed the opportunity. We are playing our best cricket and, Alhamdulillah, we will play well in the final.”


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