Botha considers Babar moving to Zalmi a ‘big loss’


Pakistan batter Babar Azam in action during PSL match. — AFP/File

Karachi Kings’ Head Coach Johan Botha shared his concern about star cricketer Babar Azam moving to Peshawar Zalmi, terming it a “big loss” for his side as he is one of the best batters in the world. 

While talking on a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Digital platform, former South African cricketer responded to a question about Babar Azam’s absence in the Karachi squad.  

“Yeah, he [Babar] is one of the best cricketers in the world. I think Sharjeel [Khan] is still obviously at the top, which he has done very well over the last few years,” Botha said.

“We have filled Babar’s spot with James Vince, who has played really well for Multan. But, that is [Babar Azam moving to Peshawar Zalmi] obviously a big loss. He is a big player, he is a big character in the tournament and he draws big crowds into the stadium. We have tried to replace him with James Vince. Hopefully, we can substitute that – Vince has done really well when he’s played in the PSL,” he further stated.

It must be noted that Azam left Karachi for Peshawar Zalmi before the PSL draft last year.

Botha was the assistant coach at Karachi Kings in PSL 5, the edition when they lifted the title.

Praising the PSL tournament and his experience in it, Botha said, “I have had some great experiences in the past and I think it [PSL] is a great tournament. It is probably one of the best two or three tournaments in the world and obviously great to work in it. It is just a good tournament for me to be involved in.” 

Botha also opened up about the quality of cricket in the PSL. 

“It is the quality of the cricket. There are high scores and most nights the wickets are really good, but I think it’s the bowling quality of all teams. Every team has outstanding bowling and that is why a lot of teams go to the draft to pick international batters,” he said.

“It is a good match-up as it is top international batters versus top local bowlers and not to throw at the local batters, you know, there are obviously some world-class players in there,” he added. 

This is a good tournament for international batters to come and enhance their batting skills against fast bowling, he further underlined.

Botha also remarked that: “We [Karachi] need to establish ourselves as one of the better teams in the tournament. That obviously is going to take some work from being last probably the last couple of years, only having won one game, during the PSL 7.”

Botha further told PCB Digital that batter Haider Ali could be one of the key players in the side.  

“I think our biggest player and the player we probably need to get the most out of is [Haider] Ali. When he was with [Peshawar] Zalmi in the first couple of years, he was excellent. I thought this guy could be one of the best T20 players in the world,” he said. 

The 40-year-old also highlighted the importance of runs scored by Karachi’s top-order in the batting department.

“Hopefully, we can fire at the top with the bat. In a tournament like this, your top six have to fire, get the runs, and get it quick enough or you are always going to struggle,” he said.

“Obviously, last year there was something missing. I think we have covered it a way it’s a lot to replace an excellent player. But we have done pretty well to cover that,” Botha concluded.


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