Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram threw light on the inaugural edition of the Lankan Premier League, the ongoing Indian Premier League, the constant comparisons between Pakistan star Babar Azam and India captain Virat Kohli.

He also believes that T20 cricket has changed the dynamics of the game and comes as a huge booster for youngsters who not just get a platform, but also gain experience spending time with the stars.

“T20 leagues around the world have given exposure to many cricketers, both young and experienced. Thanks to T20 cricket, the game has now become very fast. Batsmen are scoring runs at a quicker rate, bowlers have become innovative and the standard of fielding has gone up by many notches,” Akram told PTI.

“And you can see the impact of T20 cricket in the longer format too. Test matches are producing results frequently than it used to and that’s a good sign for the game. When you are playing cricket with a variety of players, on different kinds of wickets and against different kinds of attack on a regular basis, your game is bound to show improvement, and we’ve seen that with all T20 Leagues in the world and in cricket as a whole.”

Akram has also been an integral part of the IPL in the past and feels that the success of the league, post the pandemic, is proof that fans want to enjoy the live action.

“Over 90 percent of global sport halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are now hungry for any live sport they can get during this crisis. Though matches are played in empty stadiums, there has been a staggering spike in viewership numbers, both in television and digital medium. Sports fans too are exploring new avenues to beat the virus and IPL is proof of this,” he explained.

“The opening match of the IPL this season was watched by approximately 20 crore people around the globe, making it the most-watched opening day in any sporting league ever. Sri Lanka too has been devoid of any sporting events during this period, so what better way than to embrace the new normal with the most loved sports in the country. I have no doubt that response from the fans to events like this is a huge boost to the sports and the organizers,” he pointed out.

Speaking about the India-Pakistan feud, Akram believes that sports should never be affected by politics. He also shared his views on the recent comparisons between India skipper Virat Kohli, and his Pakistan counterpart, Babar Azam.

“I’ve always believed that sports shouldn’t be a victim of politics but that is a government subject of both countries and it won’t be apt for me to say anything. But, as you said, in the question itself, yes IPL is one of the most competitive domestic leagues in the cricketing world and I wish Pakistan youngsters get to be a part of it and I also wish to see the Indian players playing in PSL.”

“I would not like to make any comparison but having said that, I would like to add that Babar Azam is an exceptional talent. He has shown his excellence in all formats but in patches. I’d be very happy if he can see the comparison positively and becomes consistent in his performance like Kohli,” he further added.

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