Is Babar truly the new member of the Fab Four, or does Rohit Sharma, Marnus Labuschagne or even Shakib Al Hasan deserve a closer look?
With Pakistan currently touring England, there has been plenty of talk about cricket's four best batsmen - the Fab Four of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root - and a lot of people have been calling for Babar Azam to be in the list in place of Root.
While it's obvious that Virat Kohli is the undisputed best batsman in world cricket in all three formats and Steve Smith is the master in Tests, with Kane Williamson also super consistent in all three formats, a spot for the fourth position is up for grabs.
The England Test captain's form has dipped over the past few seasons whereas the Pakistan ODI captain's form has blossomed and his beautiful strokeplay has caught the eye of fans worldwide.
But is Babar truly the new member of the Fab Four, or does Rohit Sharma, Marnus Labuschagne or even Shakib Al Hasan deserve a closer look?
A case for Babar Azam
Along with his delicious cover drives (arguably the tastiest one in the game currently), Babar has been raking in the runs in all three formats for Pakistan.
Since the retirement of Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, Pakistan have been looking for a batting mainstay that can be the bedrock of the lineup and Babar has taken up that mantle with aplomb with averages over 50 in ODIs and even T20Is.
His averages in Tests have been 68.44 in 2019 and 72.33 in 2020 and that has propelled his career average up to 44.74.
The only shortcoming he has is a career-defining knock in a crunch match for Pakistan, and once he gets that, one feels more will come and he can truly be compared with the likes of Kohli and Smith.
A case for Rohit Sharma
On his day, he can be the most dominating batsman in world cricket.
Three double centuries in ODIs is a feat that may never ever be broken and he easily is the best accelerator in ODI cricket history.
The 'Hitman' has also improved drastically in Tests over recent years and gotten his average up to 46.5 despite averaging around 30 for the most part of his career and that has been mostly due to his form in 2019 where he averaged 92.66 in Tests.
But regardless, a batsman with an average under 50 in Tests and with no memorable Test innings away from home in tough conditions, are points that go against Rohit.
A case for Marnus Labuschagne
The South African-born right-hander has been a revelation for Australia over the last year with the way he initially came in as a concussion replacement for Steve Smith during the Ashes to then going on to establish himself as a regular starter for the Aussies.
He has shown the technique and temperament of a seasoned veteran and been the best batsman for Australia in the last year with 1104 runs at an average of 64.94, even better than the indomitable Steve Smith.
The only thing going against him are the number of games he's played, especially ODIs and he's yet to make his T20I debut for Australia, so a few more years of this performance will certainly get his name up with the very best.
A case to keep Joe Root
Despite the recent criticism, Joe Root still averages 48 in Tests and over 50 in ODIs.
The Test average has only gone down because he averages around the 40s over the last three years.
But his form in ODIs has been decent but has seen a downward slope as he averaged 70.21 in 2017, 59.12 in 2018, 50.55 in 2019 and 33 so far in 2020.
Because Root was so good in Tests from 2014-2017, where he averaged close to 65 and transferred that form to limited-overs cricket, he was easily among the top three batsmen in the world.
He's still arguably the best batsman for England and at 29, has a long career ahead and could go on to become England's most decorated batsman.
But it's safe to say that he has been a notch below the likes of Kohli and Smith in recent years.
Does Shakib make the cut according to his teammates?
Shakib was piling on the runs in ODI cricket in 2019 which was capped off by a stellar World Cup in English soil and he averaged over 90.
But the one year ban slapped by the ICC on him has halted his progress and his performances in Tests were also starting to pick up, especially the double ton in New Zealand in 2017.
But a move up the order and with a good chunk of his career's prime left, his batting could go from strength to strength once he returns and he could easily be in the Fab Four discussion.
The Business Standard also spoke with two former national team captains and Shakib's teammates on the Fab Four currently and if Shakib is in it.
Shahriar Nafees: I totally agree with what Nasser Hussain said and I think that there should be a fab five instead of a fab four. I'd have Smith, Kohli, Williamson, Root and Babar. But based on recent performances, I think I'd pick Babar ahead of Root if I had to pick four out of these five. Shakib's name comes up every time there is a discussion about great all-rounders and as a result, his name doesn't come up here, despite his incredible form with the bat recently. It could change if he gets his average up.
Mohammad Ashraful: I would pick Smith, Kohli, Williamson and Rohit Shama in my Fab Four. A batsman that has three double centuries in ODI cricket and has improved so much in Tests, it's hard to overlook him. Plus his batting is a treat to watch. Babar Azam might be playing well but Pakistan have not been doing great recently, so it's not easy to put him up there yet. Shakib has been doing great recently batting at no. 3, and I told him early on in his career that he should bat higher up. It's great to see now that he's doing it and reaping the rewards. If he keeps this up, he can be considered in the Fab Four later on.
In the end, a case can be made that at the moment, there is a Terrific Three - Kohli, Smith and Williamson - with Babar the closest to being part of the fourth member, and Rohit, Marnus, Root and Shakib following.