Babar Azam, world’s number-one batter in white-ball cricket and Pakistan’s all-format captain, has a huge fan following around the world. Former Pakistan U19 captain Qasim Akram is also one of Babar’s admirers and wants to follow in his footsteps so that he can also make a meaningful impact in the game.

“I idolise Babar Azam as a batter,” Qasim told PCB website, adding: “He is an articulate batter and I want to be the next Babar Azam of this world.”

Qasim also hails from his idol’s hometown in Lahore, where his father works in a pre-loved clothing shop. After captaining Pakistan in the West Indies tournament, he has remained Babar’s teammate in Central Punjab and HBL PSL franchise Karachi Kings.

“It was an unforgettable experience for me to have such a great mind around. I have learnt from him how to build an innings, play cover-drives and improve pull-shots.”

The 19-year old scored 203 runs and took 10 wickets in six matches of the ICC U19 World Cup 2022. While representing Central Punjab in the National T20 2021-22, he took 11 wickets. Qasim scored a half-century in the HBL PSL 2022 for Karachi Kings, while in the Pakistan Cup 2021-22, he scored 285 runs and grabbed 10 wickets from 10 outings.

“Babar has performed wherever he has played and I regularly follow his batting skills. So, I feel fortunate enough to share the dressing room with him. As a world number-one batter, he has set such high standards in Pakistan cricket that I would like to meet.”

The middle-order batter and off-spinner is also among 107 players who are part of the PCB Pathways Programme. The four-week camp for the players’ is likely to start in the second week of June in Muridke, which is in line with PCB’s strategy to invest in young players.

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“PCB Pathways Programme is a great initiative where the young cricketers will receive a stipend of PKR30,000 per month and also earn 100 per cent educational scholarship, which will not only help them but also their families,” Qasim said.

Qasim, with his off-spin bowling, has to date picked 14 wickets from nine first-class matches and is hoping to prolong his career like Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik.

“I follow how Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez have extended their careers as all-rounders. I am presently working to improve my off-spin skills.”