'Azam is as good as Virat Kohli, which I know that's high praise but he's right up there'
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has heaped praise on right-handed batsman Babar Azam, saying he is as good as swashbuckling Indian batsman Virat Kohli.
During the recently concluded Hamilton Test against New Zealand which Pakistan lost by eight wickets, Azam scored an unbeaten 90 and Arthur says the former deserves the high praise.
"He's a young gun who will be an exceptional player. I'll go so far as to say, at the same age, I reckon, he's as good as Virat Kohli, which I know that's high praise but he's right up there," the Pakistan coach was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.
The 22-year-old Pakistani batsman averages 46.40 after three Tests and 52.11 in the 18 ODIs he has represented the national team till now. Azam has hit three centuries and five fifties in the ODIs whereas after the same number of matches, Kohli had only one ton and an average of 50 to his name.
Pakistan had to face a 0-2 whitewash in the recently concluded series against the Black Caps, their first series loss after 31 years, but the head coach feels the build-up to the series was not good.
"I think we've become better and better as the series has gone on.We arrived straight from Dubai to five days of rain in Nelson so we didn't get any training or a practice game, which was completely rained out. And there was an earthquake as well," Arthur said.
"We almost went into the first Test match pretty cold, played OK there and we've played a lot better in this [second] Test match. Had this series gone another Test match we would have been better for the conditions. Hopefully, this has put us in good stead for what we can experience in Australia," he added.
Pakistan will next tour Australia for a three-match Test series which begins with a day-night Test in Brisbane on December 15, followed by games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (Dec 26-30) and the Sydney Cricket Ground.