Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam and Quinton De Kock. (Photo Source: Pankaj Nangia, Stu Forster and Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
Australian players have included the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Babar Azam and Quinton de Kock in their ODI World XI. The Pakistan skipper’s exceptional talent has earned him much praise from celebrated Australian cricketers and has also drawn comparisons with ace Indian batter Virat Kohli.
The 28-year-old is currently the No. 1 ODI batter in the ICC rankings with 5409 ODI runs, including 19 hundreds and 28 half-centuries. Star Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood claimed that Babar is following in the footsteps of former India captain Kohli and his numbers are outstanding.
“He’s [Babar] probably a little younger than other guys, he’s sort of following the footsteps pretty quickly behind Virat. He’s a few runs behind but again his numbers are unbelievable,” said Hazlewood.
Meanwhile, Usman Khwaja spoke about the youngster’s adaptability, stating he plays extraordinarily in both attacking and defensive situations.
“He’s got the innate ability. Beautiful player of the ball, excellent player of spin. He’s got all the attributes too. I couldn’t put him on three because of Kohli so he slips down to four,” Khawaja said of Babar.
Another Aussie star Marnus Labuschagne showered praise on the Pakistan batter for his distinctive style of play, remarking on his prowess to advantageously hit the ball down the ground. He went on to say that Babar’s remarkable adaptability and high-tempo gameplay make him a versatile player.
“He’s [Babar] got a bit of a lower bat. He sort of stands up on top of the ball, a little bit more and he hits quite straight and where you know Kohli and Steve can tend to hit a bit of square up. I think he forces the ball down the ground really well,” Labuschagne said.
“He’s so versatile. He plays a high tempo game naturally and having played against Babar, on wickets that don’t bounce, you know when you are going to India for World Cup, there may not be too much bounce towards the back end, you almost feel like you don’t hang him and get him out,” the 29-year-old further added.
Virat Kohli has all the shots in the book: Travis Head
Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc and Ashton Agar also showered praises on legendary India batter Virat Kohli. Kohli has been a stalwart in the 50-over format, having amassed over 13000 runs in the format with the help of 47 centuries. He stands only two short of Sachin Tendulkar’s century tally of 49 and is on course to name the record to himself in the home World Cup.
“Virat Kohli is probably the best ODI player ever to play the game,” Mitchell Marsh told Fox cricket.
“Virat Kohli has great confidence, and his skill set is incredible. His game awareness and the way read the game is outstanding. He has all the shots in the book,” Head said.
“He moves beautifully from ball one, where some guys maybe take a few balls to get their innings,” Carey said.
“I mean, just his ability in white-ball cricket to have precision and touch, but power is his biggest asset.”
“There’s normally two fielders in One Day cricket, mid wicket and cover; they protect inside the ring. When there are guys in the deep protecting them, Virat Kohli is one of the best I’ve seen, missing midwicket and cover by a meter; that gives him four or two every time,” Khawaja said.
“He is someone who thrives on the big games, and in a World XI team in the World Cup, he is going to be the best number three,” Starc said.
“He wins games off his own bat all the time, particularly when he is chasing under pressure. He’s the ultimate player in one-day cricket. His ability to go up and down the gears, facing fast or spin, is massive and very intimidating to play against,” Agar said.
Rohit Sharma is playing a different game with cheat codes on: Sean Abbott
The Australians also picked current India skipper Rohit Sharma in the top-order of the World XI. Head highlighted Rohit’s greatness in the format with the batter having got a record three double tons while Hazlewood and Agar expained why bowling to the Indian dasher is a challenge.
“Take Virat out, he’s probably the pick of ODI batters in the last 8-10 years,” Hazlewood said.
“He has got three double hundreds in international cricket so he pretty much picks himself,” said Head.
Abbott said: “You might look at his form and think he’s probably not going as well as he usually would. [And then] he’ll turn up the next game and he’ll look like he’s playing a different game with cheat codes on.”
“That little box becomes so small where you can land the ball. Put so much pressure back on the bowler. If you are touch short, he’ll pick you up for a six,” said Hazlewood.
“I thin he’s the best one-day opening batter in the world. He has such a beautiful technique, uncomplicated,” said Agar. “The only good part about Rohit is that he doesn’t sweep a lot. So there’s one area where you can bowl and try and limit his scoring. But if just miss that area on a good pitch, it’s going miles.
Australia World XI Top Order
Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli, Babar Azam