NEW DELHI: Babar Azam is one of the rising batting stars from Pakistan and has been making all the right moves to leave a mark on the world stage, especially in the shorter formats of the game where he has cemented his place in the national side after making his international debut in May 2015. And like most among the new crop of young batsmen, he follows India captain Virat Kohli.
Kohli, who recently got married, commands a lot of respect among his contemporaries for his run-scoring ability and consistency as well as leadership skills.
But it's only lately that Azam has got mesmerized by Kohli's batting prowess. Before that, it was AB de Villiers.
"I loved watching AB de Villiers in the early days," Azam said in an interview to ESPNcricinfo. I used to follow him closely. I copied him a lot too. In the nets, I used to at least try some of the shots he played in the matches."
But now Kohli heads the list of batsmen the Pakistani follows.
"Nowadays I follow Virat Kohli, Hashim Amla, and of course, de Villiers," he said.
Azam, who averages 58.6 in 36 ODIs and 46.8 in 14 T20Is, was once also compared to Kohli by Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur. But he doesn't agree with it.
"He (Arthur) compared me with a very big player. I think it shouldn't be done," the 23-year-old said.
"But that is the coach's thinking. Maybe the stats at the start of our careers are similar, but he is the No. 1 batsman in the world. I want to perform at a high level for Pakistan too."
Besides 50 limited-overs internationals, which include seven ODI hundreds, Azam has also appeared in 11 Tests for Pakistan.