Babar Azam - Pakistan's record machine
Babar Azam - Pakistan's record machine
By Abdullah Bin Shehzad
LAHORE – Babar Azam is a Pakistani cricketer who has been the captain of the national cricket team since September 2020. He is widely considered one of the most talented batsmen in the world, and has already achieved many milestones in his short international career.
Born on Oct 15, 1994 in Lahore, Babar began playing cricket at a young age and quickly rose through the ranks of the Pakistan cricket system. He made his first-class debut for Lahore at the age of 17 and soon earned a call-up for Pakistan's Under-19 team. In 2015, he made his international debut for the senior team in a Twenty20 match against Zimbabwe.
Since then, Babar has established himself as one of Pakistan’s most consistent batsmen in all formats of the game. In ODIs, he has an average of almost 60, with 17 centuries and 24 half-centuries to his name. In T20Is, he has an average of over 41 and has been a key player in Pakistan’s success in this format. In Test cricket, he has a solid average of over 48 and has scored nine centuries in just over 47 matches.
One of Babar’s most impressive achievements is his ranking as the number one ODI batsman in the world, according to the International Cricket Council (ICC).
In addition to his individual success, Babar has also been a crucial player in Pakistan’s success as a team. He was a key member of the team that reached the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and has played a vital role in many of Pakistan’s victories in recent years.
As captain, Babar has already led Pakistan to several victories and shown maturity and leadership qualities beyond his years. He has also been praised for his calm demeanour and ability to stay composed under pressure. The 28-year-old is the second fastest player to 2,000 ODI runs and the second quickest to 1,000 T20I runs. His World Cup hundred against New Zealand is considered one of the great individual Pakistan ODI performances. His steady improvements in Test cricket have seen him rank among the best Test batsmen since 2018.
In the latest ICC Test batting rankings, Azam is on the third position with 862 rating points, following Australia’s Steve Smith. While he is on top of the ODI ranking with 887 rating points and in T20I, Babar is on fourth position with 778 rating points.
Recently, Azam broke the 16-year-old record held by Mohammad Yousuf in the first innings of the opening Test against New Zealand in Karachi.
He also has a record for staying at the top of the table of number one T20 batter for 1,155 days.
Under his leadership, Pakistan made history by beating arch-rivals India for the first time in a T20 World Cup by 10 wickets.
Picking up where he left off in 2021, Babar enjoyed another momentous year, captaining his side to two finals, including the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia. At the crease, he piled on the runs in all formats, scoring over 2,500 international runs across ODIs, T20Is and Tests, ending the year as the leading run-scorer in the latter.
The Pakistan batter also claims the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year award for a second successive year – the first to do this since Virat Kohli in 2017 and 2018. Babar consolidated his position atop the ODI batter rankings thanks to his staggering scoring consistency, registering 679 runs in nine matches at an average of 84.87. Within these numbers came notable performances against the likes of Australia, West Indies and New Zealand.
Not only this, the run-machine of Pakistan cricket team also been named the captain of ICC Men’s ODI Team of the Year for his leadership skills. Babar has also been named in the ICC Test team of the year, marking the first occasion a batting star from Pakistan has earned a spot in the prestigious lineup.
Babar Azam has also been awarded the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year.
By winning the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, Babar becomes the second winner from Pakistan in consecutive years, emulating the feat of his teammate Shaheen Shah Afridi, who won the prize in 2021. Babar also set new records in 2022, not least becoming the first, and still the only, player to win the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on two occasions.
Babar Azam has been a consistent performer in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) since its inception in 2015. He has represented the Karachi Kings and the Islamabad United in the tournament.
In the 2018 season, Babar was the leading run-scorer for Karachi Kings and helped them reach the playoffs for the first time in the tournament’s history. He scored 376 runs in 10 matches with an average of 37.60.
In the 2019 season, Babar scored 397 runs in 11 matches for Karachi Kings with an average of 44.11, including 2 centuries and a half-century.
In the 2020 season, Babar captained the Islamabad United and led them to the playoffs, scoring 340 runs in 11 matches with an average of 38.88.
In the 2021 season, Babar continued his impressive form in the PSL, scoring 349 runs in 11 matches for Islamabad United with an average of 38.77.
Babar is Peshawar Zalmi’s latest induction for the eighth edition of the league. The superstar batter will be determined to lead from the front and lead Zalmis to their first PSL title since PSL 2 and their second PSL title overall. Babar has been magnificent in the tournament during his time with Karachi Kings. Babar has scored 2,413 runs at an average of 42.33 and a strike rate of 121.13 in 66 innings he has played in PSL history.
Babar is not just a run getter but he is also loved by the cricket fans. Whenever he is on the crease, the crowd goes crazy. Many cricketing greats also say that it is just a beginning for the cricketer.
The 28-year-old cricketer has received critcism for the recent losses in some matches across all three formats but as Australian Cricket great Rickey Ponting said, "I’m sure with a bit more experience under his belt, like he’s done with his batting, I’m sure he’ll find the right way to lead and be a very successful captain of Pakistan."