Babar set to join cricket's batting elite

Scott Bailey
Babar Azam has averaged above 50 in T20s, ODIs and Test cricket since the start of last year

Australia are dealing with the likely next member of cricket's batting elite as Pakistan star Babar Azam looks to continue his rich form on the Adelaide Oval.

Babar will walk out on Friday as the most important member of Pakistan's squad, having made up for almost a quarter of their total runs since they arrived in Australia.

His 104 at the Gabba was easily the highlight of Pakistan's tour so far, and it could now be argued Babar has joined the elite pantheon of the world's best four batsmen.

In a game so long dominated by Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root, there is change in the air.

Root has averaged just 34 since the start of last year and 2017 in 2019. His Ashes were well below par.

In comparison, Babar is clearly climbing the tree.

The world's top-ranked Twenty20 batsmen is now doing it across all three formats.

He is the only player to have averaged above 50 in T20s, one-day internationals and Test cricket since the start of last year.

And while Sunday's knock at the Gabba was just his second Test century, there is every sign there are plenty more to come.

"I am (surprised it was only his second Test ton) because I think he's such a good player," Australia's coach Justin Langer said.

"We saw him during the World Cup and we've seen him before. He's a gun player. And to score a hundred the other day - great respect for him.

"He's one of the guys we have to keep on our toes for. He can take the game away like that.

"And he's only young still. Let's just hope he doesn't get away in this second Test match."

The cousin of wicketkeeping brothers Umal, Adnan and Kamran Akmal, Babar made his Test debut in 2016 after scoring three straight ODI centuries against the West Indies.

His first Test ton should have come against Australia last year, when he was out on 99 in Dubai when he fell lbw to Mitch Marsh.

But on Sunday he played wonderfully through the covers off both the front and back foot, showcasing his balance at the crease.

It will also only increase comparisons between he and Kohli on the sub-continent.

Not that he is ready to hear them yet.

"I don't think it's a fair comparison between Kohli and me, and I say this in all interviews," Babar said.

"He has a lot more matches than me and a lot more experience. When I get the same experience then maybe you can say all that.

"But at this stage the comparison doesn't work.

"I try not to think about it because it only adds more pressure on you."

BABAR AZAM SINCE START OF 2018:

Tests: 865 runs at 50.88

ODIs: 1601 at 50.03

Twenty20s: 937 at 52.05