Babar Azam: Pakistan’s Next Great Batter
He may only be 27, but those that know their cricket have already anointed Babar Azam as the next great Pakistan batter. In the half-decade since he established himself in the national team, Babar has proved a limited-overs master, breaking plenty of records in both ODIs and T20Is. As a Test player, he made a more hesitant start, but has shown enough signs that he can be an elite performer in the most challenging format too.
For Pakistan cricket fans, Babar will forever be a legend, most notably because he was the first Pakistani captain to win a World Cup game against India, doing what had eluded Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and so many others. They also won’t forget the anchor role he played with 46 runs as Fakhar Zaman’s thrilling century helped defeat India, red-hot favorites and defending champions, in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.
But there is far more to Babar’s batting than his exploits against India. The cousin of the Akmal brothers, he was marked for stardom as a teenager who played in 2 Under-19 World Cups. But unlike his cousins, whose temperament never kept pace with their talent, Babar has always been a mature and responsible presence in the national side. Even as a generation of talented batters failed to live up to their potential, Babar has progressed with barely a false step.
Unlike his predecessors, he has also got to play on home turf, with international cricket gradually returning to Pakistan after more than a decade. As many as 3 of his 5 Test hundreds have come on home soil, and he has also starred in Pakistan T20 League matches in front of passionate home crowds.
But individual landmarks only count for so much in a team sport like cricket. Virat Kohli, one of Azam’s great heroes, led India to the top of the Test rankings and kept them there for half a decade. He also won the World Cup in 2011 and was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in consecutive T20 World Cups in 2014 and 2016. Babar’s next task is to match such feats. Pakistan won their only 50-over World Cup in 1992, and their triumph in the T20 World Cup came in 2009, when Shahid Afridi was in his prime.
Babar, who is the leading batter in the history of the Pakistan T20 League, knows he has to end that drought if he is to be ranked alongside batting legends like Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq. As captain of a team that has often crumbled under pressure in big games in the last decade and more, he also needs to get more consistent performances out of his side. Pakistan’s talent has never been in doubt. Their temperament and toughness frequently has.
The 2021 T20 World Cup offered another example of that frailty, as Matthew Wade and Australia overpowered a team that had topped a tough qualifying group that included New Zealand and India. Babar may have finished the tournament as leading run scorer, but when it mattered, the team fell short.
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Babar Azam’s Personal Details
- Mohammad Babar Azam
- Date of Birth
- 15th October 1994
- Lahore, Pakistan
- Batting Style
- Right-handed batter
- Playing Role
- Top-order batter
- Major Teams Played For
- Pakistan, Islamabad Team, Karachi Team
Babar Azam Current Rankings
Babar Azam Career Summary
- 143 vs. BAN
- 158 vs. ENG
- 122 vs. SA
Babar Azam - Key Skills and Strengths
Like Virat Kolhi and AB de Villiers, two of the players he idolizes, Babar Azam’s batting is characterized by the time he has to play a variety of shots. Though technically sound, he isn’t the sort to get bogged down by the mechanics of batting. Like the best Asian batters, he’s comfortable facing spin bowling. But some of his greatest achievements – a Test century at the Australian fortress in Brisbane, a T20I century at Centurion in South Africa, and a 158 in an ODI in England – have come in alien conditions. Like Kohli, Babar has mastered the art of risk-free run accumulation in white-ball cricket. His form has been more patchy in Tests, though there have been plenty of glimpses of undoubted quality. He has hit nearly 100 sixes in international cricket, but that isn’t really his strength. When it comes to finding gaps in the field though, few are as gifted as he is.
Babar Azam Awards and Achievements
Currently ranked the No.1 batter in the world in both ODIs and T20Is, Babar has been incredibly consistent in white-ball cricket since his international debut in May 2015. In recent seasons, the responsibility of being the team’s leading batter has gone hand-in-hand with captaining the Pakistan cricket team. At the T20 World Cup in 2021, he became the first Pakistan captain to defeat India in a World Cup match, ending a losing streak across 2 formats that stretched back to 1992.
Here are some of Babar’s biggest achievements in international cricket:
His ODI batting average of 56.92 is behind only Virat Kohli among players who have played at least 50 games.
Of those who have played at least 50 innings, only Kohli (51.50) averages more than Babar (45.17) in T20Is.
He was the fastest to 2000 T20I runs, getting to the landmark in 52 innings, beating the previous record set by Kohli (56).
He was the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year for 2021.
He was named captain of the ICC ODI Team of the Year in 2021.
Babar Azam’s Pakistan T20 League Journey
Babar started his Pakistan T20 League career with the Islamabad team in 2016. But he moved to the Karachi Team in 2017 and has been their main batter ever since. He was the leading run scorer in the competition in both 2020 and 2021. As of now, he is the only batter to have scored more than 2000 runs in the league’s history. He has also taken more catches than any other outfielder. As captain, he led the Karachi team to the Pakistan T20 League title in 2020.
If there is a criticism of a batter who has been so consistent, it is that he hasn’t often scored as quickly as other top batters in the format.
- Pakistan T20 League
- 90* vs. Peshawar
Babar Azam: FAQs
Yes. Kamran Akmal is the older cousin of Babar Azam. His other cousins include Umar Akmal and Adnan Akmal.
In a recent interview, Babar Azam revealed that legendary South African cricketer AB de Villiers has always been his favorite batsman.
Babar Azam is currently the No.1-ranked ODI batsman with 873 points, ahead of India’s Virat Kolhi and Rohit Sharma.
Babar Azam started his career with Islamabad in the inaugural season of 2016. He switched to Karachi Kings in the next season and has been playing with them since then. He is the current captain of Karachi.
Babar Azam is the third-fastest overall and the fastest Asian batsman to reach 3000 runs in ODIs. He achieved the feat in just 68 innings. South Africa’s Hashim Amla holds the record for the fastest 3000 ODI runs, having taken only 57 innings to reach the milestone.