Veteran Shoaib lauds young Babar

Veteran middle-order batsman Shoaib Malik has heaped praise on Babar Azam after he scored his sixth ODI century against Sri Lanka on Friday.

Babar reached his hundred slower than any of his previous five as he looked to rebuild the innings after some top order wobbles.

Shoaib feels the one things missing from his game is runs in the longest format of the game.

Speaking after Pakistan’s 83 run victory over Sri Lanka in the first ODI Shoaib said: “I would want to see him scoring runs in Test cricket also, he has been working hard and he is our great hope. The way he is going in his career, I would say he is an exceptional talent.”

Shoaib was named man of the match for his 61 ball 81 but he credited Babar and Mohammad Hafeez with steadying the innings prior to his arrival at the crease.

He said: “In the middle overs, Sri Lanka were bowling well, so strike rotation was key.

“I knew I could cover up in the end. Credit to Babar and Hafeez. That was the innings that gave us the confidence. End of the day, the bowlers did pretty well. Being an experienced player, it’s my responsibility to turn up when things are down. I didn’t take any pressure. My role was to rotate strike. Those few boundaries helped our total.”

The skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was delighted to get the ODI series off to a positive start after an abysmal display from his men in the Tests.

Sarfaraz said after the win: “When you lose one series, the first match of the next series becomes very important.

“Credit to the boys. We’ve got a lot of bowling options. This bodes well for us. The way we’ve done today, we’ll look to carry this template forward.

“If you set up runs on the board, with this bowling attack we can defend well. We will of course decide based on conditions. There is a lot of quality in this side.”

The second ODI will be played on Monday in Abu Dhabi.