Pakistan's charismatic batter Babar Azam has declared his intention to become the world No.1 batter in all three formats of the game and match Indian wicketkeeper-batting stalwart Dinesh Karthik's call that the 27-year-old captain from across the border can make history. Karthik feels Azam has it in him to become the world No. 1 batter in all three formats, which will be a unique first in the annals of the game. Azam already has the top ICC billing in both white-ball formats, but is ranked fifth in the longest format behind the likes of Australia's Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith, New Zealand's Kane Williamson and prolific England run-getter Joe Root.
But Karthik, who was recently included in India's squad for the five-match T20I series against South Africa, is quite confident that the Pakistan captain will soon be topping the ICC Test batting charts as well. Azam said it will be a "dream come true" to become the No.1-ranked batter in all three formats. "As a player it's a dream to become the No. 1 in all formats and, for that, you have to focus and put in hard work. It's not like if you are the top player in one or two formats, you go easy," Azam was quoted as saying by the ICC on Friday.
"If you are to become No.1 in all three, you have to keep yourself fit and on track. There is back-to-back cricket and the gap is less. For that, you need to be extra fit. "It's something I am preparing for. It's going well in white-ball and hopefully, I will be able to do well in Tests too," added Azam. Azam was speaking ahead of the rescheduled Pakistan and West Indies ODI series to be played on 8, 10 and 12 June. The three ODIs were postponed last December due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the West Indies camp following their T20I series.
Pakistan claimed a 3-0 clean sweep in those T20Is and continued their strong white-ball form with a 2-1 ODI series win at home against Australia. Azam was the star of the three ODIs against Australia with two tons and a half-century as he averaged 142.5 and scored at a strike rate of 116.8. "As a team, as a captain, you go into the series thinking about a clean sweep, whoever the opponent is," Azam said. "We went with the same thought against Australia, to play tough cricket and dominate.
The intent is the same against West Indies, but it's not like we are underestimating them. "They also have the capacity to give you a tough time as, on the day, they are a dangerous team. You can't take them easy." The Pakistan and West Indies ODIs will be played in Multan with matches starting at 4pm local time to avoid the worst of the extreme heat. The three ODIs are part of the Super League with both teams chasing crucial points to earn a top-eight finish and automatically qualify for the Cricket World Cup 2023, with West Indies currently in sixth place and Pakistan 10th.