Gautam Gambhir defends tall WC claim on Babar Azam: ‘Captaincy hampered his…’ | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Gautam Gambhir defends tall ‘World Cup’ claim on Babar Azam before AUS series: 'Captaincy hampered his form'

By, New Delhi
Dec 11, 2023 08:55 AM IST

Gautam Gambhir has recalled his bold prediction about Pakistan's Babar Azam that he made during the ODI World Cup season.

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir raised eyebrows with his sensational claim about Pakistan superstar Babar Azam in the build-up to the ICC World Cup 2023. Hosted by India, the 2023 edition of the World Cup scripted an unceremonious exit of Babar from the captaincy post at the Pakistan camp. Under the leadership of the Pakistani batter, the 1992 champions were crushed by India in the high-voltage clash at the World Cup 2023.

Gautam Gambhir predicted a run-fest World Cup in India for Babar Azam(AFP-ANI)
Gautam Gambhir predicted a run-fest World Cup in India for Babar Azam(AFP-ANI)

Pakistan suffered its first-ever One Day International (ODI) defeat to its noisy neighbours Afghanistan at the World Cup. With four wins and five defeats in nine games, Babar's Pakistan finished fifth in the round-robin phase of the ODI World Cup in India. For the second time running, Pakistan failed to enter the semi-final stage of the ODI World Cup. After Pakistan's flop show at the grandest stage of them all, premier batter Babar relinquished the captaincy from all formats of the game.

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Babar will take up the role of a pure batter in Pakistan's first series after the ICC World Cup against Australia. Speaking to Sportskeeda ahead of the Test series between Pakistan and Australia, former India opener Gambhir recalled his famous prediction for Babar during the World Cup season. The former India cricketer and full-time cricket pundit explained what went wrong for Babar at the ODI World Cup.

'You’ll see the best of Babar Azam now'

“You’ll see the best of Babar Azam now. You will see a completely different Babar Azam. Before the World Cup, I picked Babar as the batter of the tournament. But the pressure of captaincy hampered his form with the bat. It’s because when you are the skipper and your team isn’t performing well, you can imagine how much pressure he was under,” Gambhir said.

'He has got 10 years with no pressure of captaincy'

Expecting Babar to play for 10 more years after stepping down as captain, the two-time World Cup winner backed the star batter to become the best-ever player in the history of Pakistani cricket. “You will see the actual Babar Azam that no one has seen. From now until the day he retires, you will see his actual ability. Babar has so much quality that he can go out and become the best batter Pakistan has ever produced. He has got 10 years with no pressure of captaincy,” Gambhir added.

Averaging 40.00 in 9 games, Babar scored 320 runs for Pakistan at the India World Cup. The former ODI No.1 batter registered four half-centuries for the Green Army in the ICC event. Speedster Shaheen Shah Afridi has replaced Babar as the leader of the T20I side while batter Shan Masood was appointed Pakistan's Test captain ahead of the Australia series.

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