“My idol is Mohammad Yousuf. He was such a classy player. He had all the time in the world to play the ball. I always enjoyed watching him bat,” Azam told Sportstar.
Yousuf, who also captained Pakistan briefly, was among the most prolific batsmen of the 2000s. He featured in 90 Tests, 288 ODIs, and 3 T20Is for the country. Yousuf amassed 7530 runs in Tests at an average of 52.29 and 9720 runs in ODIs at an average of 41.72. Politics in Pakistan cricket though brought a premature end to his career when he seemed destined to play over 100-plus Tests for the country.
Returning to Azam, they 26-year-old has often invited comparisons with Indian captain Virat Kohli owing to his amazing success and consistency. For Azam, before debated on the same scale as Kohli is a massive compliment.
“I know. It does feel nice that you are compared to some very good players in the game. My mindset is that I challenge myself. I set myself targets. I set myself benchmarks. I have to win matches for Pakistan. And win matches which help the team.
“Comparisons with big players also help you to set goals that match those of the big players. If your name figures in the top five of the world it is obviously a nice feeling. It also means that you have to keep performing to those standards and that boosts your confidence too. I like it,” Azam further said.
Having made his international debut in 2015, Azam has so far featured in 29 Tests, 77 ODIs and 44 T20Is and has scored 2045, 3580 and 1681 runs respectively.
--By A Cricket Correspondent