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After Virat Kohli’s slowest IPL ton, Babar Azam defends strike rate strategy

After Virat Kohli’s slowest IPL ton, Babar Azam defends strike rate strategy

The contrasting performances of Virat Kohli and the ongoing debate surrounding Babar Azam's strike rate highlight the complexities of modern cricket. While a balance needs to be struck between scoring quickly and building a solid foundation, prioritizing the team's victory should remain the ultimate objective.

The weekend witnessed contrasting narratives in the IPL. While Virat Kohli‘s long-awaited century grabbed headlines, his strike rate became a point of discussion. This has reignited the debate surrounding strike rate in modern cricket, with Pakistan captain Babar Azam offering a strong defense of his own approach.

Virat Kohli Century Stirs Debate

In Saturday’s IPL 2024 match between Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bengaluru, Virat Kohli finally ended his century drought with an unbeaten 113 runs.

However, the knock came in 72 balls, resulting in a strike rate of 156.94 – the joint-slowest for a century in IPL history. While Kohli looked in control, a lack of support from the other end forced him to adopt a more anchoring role, leading to the lower strike rate.

Babar Azam Speaks Out: Strike Rate vs. Winning

In a separate interview, this situation resonated with Pakistan’s white-ball captain Babar Azam, who often faces criticism for his own strike rate. Azam firmly believes players should prioritize the team’s victory over personal glory.

“People keep harping on about strike rate,” Azam stated in a podcast. “I’m a different player – I adapt to the situation on the field. Cricket is evolving rapidly, but winning the match remains the ultimate goal.”

Building Innings: Strategic Choice

Babar Azam emphasizes the importance of building a strong foundation for the innings, especially when wickets fall early. He argues that mindlessly hitting big shots isn’t always the answer. “I focus on how to win matches, how to build an innings, and maintain a strike rate that contributes to that goal,” he explained. “Strike rate is a separate story. Building an innings and winning a match are different things.”

Flexibility and Adaptability are Key

While acknowledging the need to adapt to the pace of modern cricket, Babar Azam highlights the importance of flexibility. “The first six overs compared to the last overs require different approaches,” he said. “I understand my game. I know how to add value and adjust my style. The situation dictates my play. If it allows, I’ll certainly play aggressively.”

Focus on Winning, Not Comparisons: Babar Azam

Babar Azam further emphasizes the futility of constantly chasing a perfect strike rate. “If we have wickets, we can play aggressively with a high strike rate too,” he said. “No matter how well I play, some will always find an issue with my strike rate. They’ll move the goalpost – 150, then 170, then 200. Everyone has their own style. I don’t compare myself to others.”

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Moving Forward: A Balanced Approach

The contrasting performances of Virat Kohli and the ongoing debate surrounding Babar Azam’s strike rate highlight the complexities of modern cricket. While a balance needs to be struck between scoring quickly and building a solid foundation, prioritizing the team’s victory should remain the ultimate objective.

Hopefully, these discussions will encourage a more nuanced understanding of how players approach the game and contribute to their team’s success.

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