Babar Azam the sensational Pakistani batsman has become a household name in cricketing nations. He has been in the news for quite some time because of his brilliant batting and records.
Pakistan cricket team has a fatal weakness; it crumbles like a pack of cards whenever its top order fails to perform. Although Pakistan has produced many strong openers who make a decent opening score. But batsmen fail to maintain run-building tempo, especially in the limited over matches. In Babar Azam, Pakistan found a reliable number 3 batsman who stayed at the wicket and scored runs quickly. Although Azam retained his number 3 spot in test matches, later he started playing as an opener in limited over matches giving his team a solid start.
Babar Azam was included in 2010 Under 19 World Cup team when he was only 15 years old. His impressive performance throughout the event ensured his place in the 2011 and 2012 Under 19 World Cups. Babar scored a total of 585 runs in 12 matches in three events displaying his intelligent selection of shots and mastery of strokes. He stands second to England’s Eoin Morgan in scoring runs in under 19 events. Azam scored at an average of 58.50 runs and his impressive total included two centuries and three half centuries.
International Cricket Performance:
Babar Azam’s brilliant performance in Under -19 ensured his spot in international cricket. He played his first ever ODI against Zimbabwe in 2015. Babar justified his selection with his scintillating knock of 54 runs off 60 balls. He was then included in the test and ODI series against Sri Lanka. Babar Azam played a crucial role in Pakistan’s victory against England in the home series in 2015. Babar played his first test match in 2016 against New Zealand. He performed consistently in all formats of international matches. When necessary, he played a champion’s innings ensuring victory for his team. So far Babar Azam has played 73 innings in 41 matches. He has scored a total of 3025 runs with an average of 47.27. His highest score in test matches is 196 runs.
Babar Azam actively participates in league cricket. He plays for Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League, Caribbean Premier League, Glamorgan, and Somerset.
Babar Azam is the captain of the Pakistan cricket team in all three formats. He was first appointed captain of the T20 format in October 2019. He became the captain of the ODI format in May 2020 and was also awarded the captaincy of test cricket in November 2020. Azam has been a successful captain who believes in setting an example for the team to follow. He is organized and punctual and very particular about fitness. Azam believes in including the team when planning and setting strategies for matches.
“There are two ways to bat in cricket; one is to destroy attack with muscles and force. The other is the Babar Azam way, like conducting a batting symphony with punch, panache and flair” (Ramiz Raja, May 10, 2021).
Babar Azam is a right-handed batsman. He idolizes A.B. de Villiers and Virat Kohli and admits to copying their strokes during practices. Inspired by these great batsmen, Azam has carved a technique of his own which as described by Shaun Pollock is “relaxed”. According to Pollock “He gets into a relaxed position and he gives himself the best chances to be effective in all conditions, whether it’s slower or bouncier, fast or seaming. He has got such a good technique that he is going to stand the test of time”. His confident demeanor on the crease and his patience and consistency has enabled him to score big against all bowling attacks. Azam’s signature shot is cover drive which he has mastered after much practice. His immaculate timing and stroke play and good judgment of the ball make him a treat to watch. Another factor that has contributed to Azam’s success is his ability and willingness to learn from his mistakes and overcome his weaknesses. Babar is among the few Pakistani batsmen who play sensibly and do not throw away their wickets.
Fastest Score Records
In 2017, Babar Azam joined the list of batsmen scoring 1000 runs in one-day international (ODI) cricket. He is the third Pakistani batsman and overall 7th player in the world to achieve this record. Azam made this record in the 21st innings of his career.
Azam also ranks second in international cricket for scoring the fastest 2000 runs in ODI matches. He played 45 innings to make this record in September 2018. He shares this record with legends Zaheer Abbas (Pakistan) and Kevin Pietersen (England).
On 26th June 2019, while playing his 68th innings, Babar Azam became the fastest Asian cricketer to reach 3000 runs in ODI.
In July 2022, Babar Azam set another record when he became the fastest Asian batsman to score 10,000 runs in international cricket. He achieved this milestone against Sri Lanka in the Galle Test Match while playing the 228th innings of his career. Earlier this record was held by India’s Virat Kohli who had accomplished this feat in 232 innings. Babar Azam is the fifth batsman overall to score 10,000 runs in international cricket. Babar Azam also has impressive records to his credit when it comes to scoring centuries. He has scored 5 consecutive centuries in UAE making him the only player to accomplish this feat in a single country.
Dominance in ODI
Babar Azam dominates the ODI format both in Pakistan and internationally. Since 2015, Azam has played 87 ODI innings and has scored 4442 runs which include 17 centuries and 19 half centuries. Azam has scored at an average of 59.23 with his highest score being 158 runs. Babar Azam holds the distinction of scoring three consecutive centuries twice in the ODI format and is the only cricketer to do so. He also enjoys the distinction of being the first cricketer to score the highest number of runs 1306 in the first 25 innings of his ODI career. Babar Azam tops the list of highest total of 474 runs in a single world cup event (2019) among Pakistani batsmen. He was the highest scorer for Pakistan in 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2021 World Cup events.
Azam scored the fastest 7, 13, 14, 15, and 16 centuries in ODI to reach the record for the fastest 17 centuries in ODI. Captaincy has not affected his batting performance which is evident from his record of scoring the fastest 1000 runs in just 13 innings.
Azam also holds the record of scoring the highest number of consecutive half-centuries in international cricket (male). In the T20 format, Babar Azam has made his mark in the form of the fastest 2000 and 2500 runs. In the 69 T20 innings played, Azam has scored 2686 runs and includes one century and 26 half centuries. His run average in T20 is 45.53 and his highest score is 122. He is the highest scorer in the T20 format for Pakistan and is among the three Pakistani batsmen to make centuries in all three formats.
For his outstanding performance, Babar Azam has twice earned the title of ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2017 and 2021. He was named the Captain of the ICC Men’s ODI Team as well as Captain of the ICC Men’s T20 Tem in 2021. He also won the coveted title of ICC Player of the Month (April 2021).