Pakistan’s top-order lynchpin Babar Azam has admitted to keenly following Virat Kohli’s game, and seeking inspiration from his batting style, ahead of his side’s World Cup 2019 match against India.
“I watch his [Kohli’s] batting and the way he bats in various conditions, and try to learn from them,” Babar told reporters on the eve of the game. “I try to learn with experience. This is my process of learning, so I try my 100 per cent.”
The 24-year-old Babar has been in a rich run of form over the last few years, across formats for Pakistan. Since June 2016, he has stacked up 2479 ODI runs, the fifth-highest for any batsman. In the same period, Babar has been the leading scorer in T20 internationals, and is the only batsman, along with Rohit Sharma, to have scored over 1000 runs in the format over the last three years.
Babar, who bats at No.3, sounded unfazed at the prospect of facing a formidable Indian bowling unit, spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah, the No.1-ranked ODI bowler in the world. He expressed confidence in the side’s ability to keep the Indian pacers at bay, just like they managed to do against England, in Pakistan’s only win of the tournament.
“No doubt, India have a good bowling attack, but we have played well against England, who also have a very good pace attack, so all of us are confident the Indian pace attack will be properly handled,” he said.
“The Champions Trophy win can never go off our memories and is always a big inspiration.”
Babar first faced India in an ODI during the group stage of the Champions Trophy in 2017. While Pakistan lost that game, in Birmingham, they came back to defeat India in the final by 180 runs, in the process winning their first major ICC title since the 2009 T20 World Cup.
Babar said that the 2017 win continues to inspire the side, as they now aim to get their campaign back on track, having gathered just three points in four games.
“The  Champions Trophy win gave us confidence and will also help here as well because the team is mostly the same and that win is always an inspiration,” he said. “That win can never go off our memories and it’s a big inspiration.
“We are well-prepared for this match because India and Pakistan matches are exciting and demanding, and the whole world watches it.”