Babar Azam’s Spinning Headache

Babar Azam’s Spinning Headache

Despite spearheading the Pakistani batting for over half a decade, the recent form of the Pakistani captain against spin is worrisome. Analysing his performances reveals specific weaknesses that opposition captains have exploited. Notably, Babar Azam has lost his wicket to spinners on four occasions in the last ten T20Is.

Babar, who relies predominantly on timing rather than power hitting, has shown a pattern of impatience against spinners like Moeen Ali, Michael Bracewell, and Ish Sodhi in recent games. All four of his dismissals occurred when he attempted to attack the spinners, leading to premeditated shots that made him vulnerable to variations in pace and flight. This impatience likely stems from a desire to break free from perceived pressure or to accelerate the scoring rate.

                                        Babar Azam’s stats against Spin and Pace in 2024

Babar Azam is renowned for his timing and placement, especially against fast bowlers who provide the pace he can work with. Against spinners, however, he has to generate more power himself, which disrupts his natural game. The number of fours hit against spin (48) is less than half of those hit against pace (98), despite facing a comparable number of balls.

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This stark difference highlights his struggle to find gaps and score boundaries against spin. When boundaries dry up, pressure mounts, leading to rash shots and eventual dismissals. This inability to score freely against spin creates psychological pressure. Babar’s strike rate drops against spin considerably from 141.69 to 128.89, as the spinners stifle the run flow.

A look at Babar Azam’s strike rates against spin and pace from 2020 to 2024 reveals that a lower strike rate against spin is not a new issue. Since 2020, Babar has consistently had a worse strike rate against spin compared to pace, indicating a persistent struggle to maintain an aggressive scoring rate against slower bowlers.

After hitting a record low strike rate against spin in 2022 (109.19), Babar’s performance against both spin and pace began to improve in subsequent years. However, despite this improvement, his strike rate against spin still lags behind modern standards. While his ability to score quickly against fast bowlers is well-known, his challenges against spin remain significant.

To counter his struggle against spin, Babar Azam can diversify his shot selection by perhaps incorporating unconventional shots like the reverse sweep. Doing so will enhance his ability to score comfortably against spinners, reduce pressure, and ultimately improve his overall performance against spin bowling.

About the Author: Ahmad Umar is trying to combine his love for sports and numbers.

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