It is one of those topics that generates a debate these days across the India-Pakistan border but Babar Azam on Monday chose to play down comparisons with run-machine Virat Kohli.

The 25-year-old Azam has emerged as Pakistan’s best batsman in recent times and currently leads the ICC men’s T20 International rankings. He is also ranked third in One-Day Internationals and fifth in Tests respectively. He is the only man apart from Kohli to feature in top 10 across all three formats.

“I think it’s better if you are not comparing. I have said that he is a different kind of a player, and I am a different player,” Azam is quoted as saying in a virtual press conference by PTI.

“I am only striving to bat well and help my team to victory every time i take to the field.”

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“For Babar Azam sky is the limit,” former captain Ramiz Raja was quoted as saying by a local news channel recently.

“Until and unless he gets the environment which is encouraging and engaging, he won’t be able to love up to his potential. He has the potential to even beat Virat Kohli but he needs to free up [his mind] and not think about losing. As soon as he does that and thinks about scoring runs and winning, he will remain a great player for a very long time,” Raja had said.

Looking forward to T20 World Cup

Asked about the possibility of playing cricket behind closed doors in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Azam said they are already used to it having played most of their homes series in near-empty stands in the grounds of UAE for more than 10 years.

“We know better than other teams how it feels to play without crowd having played most of our cricket in Dubai in last 10 years. It’s not a great feeling for fans and it’s not great for us also,”Azam, who was recently confirmed as the ODI captain, said.

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No Test nation toured Pakistan for more than 10 years since the 2008 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Azam said he was praying the coronavirus pandemic would not scupper his first T20 World Cup as Pakistan skipper.

Australia are due to host the seventh Twenty20 World Cup in October and November but organisers face challenges of providing appropriate bio-security and quarantine measures for 15 international teams.

Lingering travel restrictions could also hit the event, where forty-five matches are scheduled to be played in seven cities.

“It will be my first World Cup as skipper so I am praying for it and keeping fingers crossed,” Azam said.

The stylish batsman also vowed to improve Pakistan’s rankings.

“We are now fourth in Twenty20, sixth in ODIs and seventh in Tests which is not acceptable and I want to see improvements in that,” Azam said.

Pakistan topped the Twenty20 rankings from January 2018 to until last week.

(With AFP and PTI inputs)