Bengaluru, June 24: Pakistan had an impressive victory over South Africa in the cricket World Cup at Lord's on Sunday (June 23).
After Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat, Pakistan registered a total of 308 for 7 in 50 overs and at the end, the target proved to be too much for the Proteas' uninspiring batting line-up.
The African side ended up at 259 for 9 in 50 overs to lose by 49 runs and crash out of the World Cup.
The highlight of the Pakistan batting was Haris Sohail, who in his comeback game, slammed 89 off 59 balls to give his team's scoring a big impetus. However, one must not forget the contribution made by Babar Azam as well.
The two batsmen added 81 runs for the fourth wicket in less than 12 overs to give a solid foundation for the Sohail-Imad Wasim partnership to flourish. Azam's knock was special given the circumstances under which Pakistan were playing.
It was only a week ago that the entire Pakistan side came under merciless criticism for their spineless show against arch-rivals India and Azam, despite scoring a well-crafted 48, was not spared. He was being slammed for not being able to convert his fifties into big hundreds and learn something from his idol Virat Kohli, the Indian captain.
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar also criticised him for not taking enough singles to keep the scoreboard ticking just like Kohli and failing to convert his promising knocks into big ones. Akhtar reiterated the same even after Azam fell for 69 against South Africa.
Azam has nine hundred and 14 fifties in ODIs
The charges against Azam are not untrue. Despite being the best batsman in the Pakistan line-up with an ODI average of 51 plus, Azam hasn't been able to score more than nine hundreds in the format.
Of the nine hundreds, four have come against the West Indies, two against Sri Lanka and one each against Australia, England and Zimbabwe. He has no fifty against India yet; three against the Black Caps and two against the Proteas.
Five of his half-centuries are against England while one each has come against Australia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Apart from teams like the West Indies and Sri Lanka, Azam's conversion rates need to improve by far.
Kohli, on the other hand, has 41 centuries in the ODIs and only 52 half-centuries which shows the remarkable conversion rate he has. Is Azam learning about it fast?