New Zealand captain Kane Williamson expressed trust in former Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s potential to reach top form on Thursday, claiming that his previous bad play did not lessen his talent.
A day before the two sides meet each other in a five-match T20 international series, Williamson described Azam as a “significant threat”.
Kane Williamson calls Babar Azam a “significant threat” in Pakistan-NZ match
Azam’s performance has declined in several formats during the last few months. Despite starting the 2023 World Cup as the top-ranked ODI batsman, he scored only 320 runs. In the current three-match Test series against Australia, Azam scored only 126 runs with an average of 21.
During a news conference on Thursday, Williamson suggested that every player’s form might change, but he confirmed that Azam is a world-class talent.
“He (Azam) is a world-class player. Cricket evokes a wide range of feelings and emotions, and part of that is navigating each day and striving to better. He is one of the top players in the world, and I am confident that he will continue to be so, which does not happen overnight. “We know he’s a big threat,” Williamson said.
Azam, who quit as captain of all formats following the 2023 ODI World Cup, will aim to restore his form.
Williamson also noted that Pakistan constantly poses a difficult challenge to the Kiwis, recalling how the Men in Green triumphed in the tri-series preceding the 2022 T20 World Cup.
“Pakistan is always an exciting opportunity. They are regularly one of the top teams in the world and in all conditions, so having them here in our backyard and hosting another game is fantastic. Prior to the last World Cup, we competed in a tri-series. They won that, and they clearly went far in that competition, so we know how strong they are as a squad,” Williamson said.
- 1st T20 – 12 January 2024 at Eden Park, Auckland
- 2nd T20 – 14 January 2024 at Seddon Park, Hamilton
- 3rd T20 – 17 January 2024 at University Oval, Dunedin
- 4th T20 – 19 January 2024 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
- 5th T20 – 21 January 2024 at Hagley Oval, Christchurch