Recently Babar Azam was in news for good reasons. He became number 1 ranked ODI player dethroning our own Virat Kohli…Lets see the facts before we call him better player than Virat.
In the last few years, Pakistan has lost many players who were talented, but could not adjust to the demands of International cricket. Players like Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Maqsood are among those players who lost their spark and didn’t survive. Eventually, they couldn’t retain their spot for one reason or another. The retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis khan worsened the scenario.
The Pakistan team was struggling to find quality batsmen and bowlers who can fill in the enormous gaps left by some star players. In this scenario of doom and gloom, young Babar Azam arrived. He has the right technique and temperament for the game. The right-handed, top-order batsman is also known for his discipline and level-headed attitude.
At 12, Babar was playing serious tape-ball cricket and at the age 14. He had his first meaningful taste of failure in the sport as he was rejected from the national academy. It was only a setback, the ICC said, as a year later he would gain entry and be declared the country’s best Under-15 batsman. Babar was included in the Pakistan under-19 team for the 2010 World Cup as a 15-year-old. In the 2012 under-19 World Cup he led the Pakistan team. Babar was the highest run-getter for Pakistan. He was also the leading run-scorer in the tri-series that included Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Under-19s in 2009. Babar’s consistent performance at under-19 level forced selectors to give him a chance to play for the national side. He was named in the squad for Zimbabwe series at home. He availed himself of the opportunity immediately and scored 54 off 60 balls in his debut match at Lahore on May 31, 2015.
From playing on the streets of Lahore to the top of the world, Azam has officially climbed a peak unreached by any Pakistani since Mohammad Yousuf. The Pakistani skipper has now ended Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, becoming only the fourth batsman from his country to attain number one position in the rankings. By ending Kohli’s 1,258-day supremacy, Babar has emulated compatriots Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003) as the number one ODI batsman. In Tests, Babar has attained a best of fifth position and is currently ranked sixth while in T20Is he is third but has been number one in the past.” Given below are some of his achievements and records:
* He is the second-fastest Pakistani batsman to reach 1000 runs in ODI cricket (21 innings).
* He is also the fastest Pakistani batsman to reach 2000 runs in ODI cricket (45 innings). He holds the record jointly with Zaheer Abbas and Kevin Pietersen.
* Azam is also the fastest Asian batsman to reach 3000 runs in ODI cricket (68 innings).
* He also holds the record to score the most runs in the first 25 innings of his career (1306 runs).
* Azam is the only cricketer to score 5 consecutive centuries in a single country (United Arab Emirates).
* Babar is the fastest batsman to score 7 ODI centuries (33 innings).
* He is also the fastest batsman to reach 1000 runs in T20 Internationals (26 innings).
* Babar Azam has also scored the most runs for Pakistan in a single World Cup. He scored 474 runs in 2019 World Cup at 67.61 to break Javed Miandad’s 1992 world cup record.
* He has been the top ODI scorer for Pakistan in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
* Babar Azam has also been the top Test scorer for Pakistan in 2018 and 2019.
Nowadays, Azam’s place among ODI cricket’s finest players is unquestionable. An average of 56.83 and 13 centuries across just 80 matches is just brilliant. Still only 26 years old, Azam’s best years are still ahead of him,” the ICC said. “Given he boasts the third greatest ODI average (56.83) in history right now, that is a scary thought for opposition teams all around the world.”
by Paramdeep Rathee
Feature image by prakash Parsekar