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Babar Azam to rejoin Somerset for five-week overseas stint

Babar Azam walks off after reaching his hundred from the final ball Getty Images

Babar Azam, the Pakistan batsman, has signed a deal that will see him return to Somerset as the club's overseas player for five weeks next summer.

Babar, who scored 578 runs at an average of 52.54 to finish as the leading run-scorer in the Vitality Blast last summer, will be available for 12 T20 group-stage games and County Championship fixtures against Gloucestershire and Kent.

He will replace Matthew Wade as the club's main overseas player, and will depart in time for Pakistan's tour of the Netherlands, which is followed by two T20Is in Ireland, and three Tests and three T20Is against England.

Babar is likely to resume his partnership with Tom Banton at the top of the Somerset order, which saw the pair finish as the competition's top-two run-scorers last summer, with interest in them so high that the county was forced to upgrade its website as the traffic from Pakistan had caused it to crash.

"I really enjoyed my time at Somerset, and I look forward to coming back next year," said Babar. "Somerset has a very good squad and the supporters made me feel very welcome. Hopefully I can help the Club reach the knock-out stages of the Vitality Blast and contribute to winning matches in the County Championship."

Andy Hurry, the club's director of cricket, said: "Babar Azam is the best IT20 batsman in the world and his return will be a major boost for us. He played a significant role for us in the Vitality Blast last year and his stats speak for themselves.

"He made a number of match-winning contributions and he fitted seamlessly into the dressing room. You can't ask more from your overseas players than that. His batting is so easy on the eye and he is so hungry to evolve his game. He will add significant value to the team, both with his batting and leadership."

"He was extremely popular with our members and supporters but also with our playing squad. He is a truly world-class talent and we look forward to working with him again in 2020 in both the Vitality Blast and the County Championship."