In the vast landscape of cricket, few names have risen as meteorically as Babar Azam. Born on October 15, 1994, in Lahore, Punjab, Babar's journey from the bustling streets of Lahore to the grand stadiums of international cricket is nothing short of a fairy tale. But like every fairy tale, Babar's story is a blend of talent, hard work, and a bit of destiny.
Babar's introduction to the world of cricket was not a mere coincidence. He is the cousin of the well-known Akmal brothers - Kamran, Umar, and Adnan, all of whom have represented Pakistan at the international level. With cricket running in his veins, Babar's talent was evident from a young age. His consistent performances at the Under-19 level, especially during the tri-series involving Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in 2009, showcased his prowess with the bat. This consistency eventually paved the way for his inclusion in the national side.
Making his debut for Pakistan against Zimbabwe at the Gaddafi Stadium in 2015, Babar announced his arrival with a fluent fifty. His stroke-making ability, combined with his calm demeanour at the crease, hinted at the making of a future cricketing star. The selectors, recognizing his potential, retained him for the subsequent Sri Lanka tour in July of the same year.
However, it was in 2016 that Babar truly made the cricketing world sit up and take notice. During a series against the West Indies in the UAE, he notched up his 5th ODI ton in just his 25th innings. This feat made him the second quickest to achieve this milestone, only behind the South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton De Kock. His aggregate of 1306 runs after 25 matches was the highest, surpassing even the likes of Jonathan Trott.
But Babar's journey wasn't without its challenges. His initial foray into Test cricket, especially on the bouncy tracks of Australia in late 2016 and early 2017, exposed some flaws in his technique. Yet, his determination and hunger to improve were evident. Drawing inspiration from cricketing legends like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, Babar worked diligently on his game. His aspiration to emulate the feats of these greats showcased his ambition and drive.
Babar's rise in international cricket also coincided with Pakistan's search for a dependable number 3 batsman, especially in the shorter formats. Over the years, Pakistan's batting lineup, particularly in ODIs and T20s, had seen a dearth of consistent performers. Babar's arrival was like a breath of fresh air, filling a void that had been evident for quite some time.
His leadership qualities were evident from his younger days. Leading the Pakistan Under-19 team in the 2012 World Cup, Babar showcased his ability to handle pressure and lead from the front. Although Pakistan couldn't clinch the title, Babar's performances ensured he was the top run-scorer for his team.
In the realm of T20 cricket, Babar's prowess is undeniable. With a strike rate of over 128 and an average of 41.49, he has been a mainstay for Pakistan in the shortest format. His T20 debut against England at Emirates Old Trafford in 2016 was just the beginning of a journey that has seen him amass runs consistently.
Babar Azam's journey to the pinnacle of international cricket is deeply rooted in his early life experiences and the environment he grew up in. Born on October 15, 1994, in the historic Walled City of Lahore, Babar's childhood was filled with memories of "playing cricket and roaming around like a free bird in those streets." The bustling streets of Lahore, with their rich history and vibrant culture, served as the backdrop for Babar's first tryst with the sport.
The allure of cricket was not unfamiliar to Babar's family. His older cousins, Kamran, Umar, and Adnan Akmal, all had significant careers representing Pakistan in international cricket. Their stories and experiences in the sport played a pivotal role in shaping Babar's aspirations. It was their influence that ignited the spark in him, making him see cricket not just as a pastime but as a potential profession.
Before Babar became a household name in Pakistan, he was a ball boy at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. This stadium, which has witnessed countless historic moments in cricket, was where Babar observed international matches up close. He was present during the home series Pakistan played between 2006 and 2008. These experiences, coupled with his proximity to the game, further deepened his passion and understanding of cricket.
Babar's formal entry into the sport began when he joined a cricket academy in Lahore. Under the guidance of Rana Sadiq, his first coach, Babar honed his skills and grasped the fundamentals of batting. Rana Sadiq's teachings laid the foundation for Babar's technique, which would later be lauded on the international stage.
His talent did not go unnoticed for long. Babar's consistent performances and dedication soon earned him a spot in the Pakistan U-19 setup. This was a significant milestone in his career, as it provided him with the platform to showcase his skills against some of the best young talents from around the world.
Babar's international career began in May 2015 when he was included in the Pakistani ODI squad for a home series against Zimbabwe. Making his debut in the third ODI of the series on May 31, Babar made an immediate impact, scoring a commendable fifty with 54 runs off 60 balls. This impressive debut was a testament to his preparedness and potential, earning him a place in both the Test and ODI squads for subsequent series.
While his debut was promising, it was Babar's performances in the following years that truly solidified his reputation. He consistently delivered with the bat, breaking records and achieving milestones at a pace that few could match. His ability to adapt to different formats and conditions showcased his versatility and commitment to the sport.
Babar Azam's ascent to international stardom is a captivating tale of talent meeting opportunity. While his early days in cricket laid the foundation, it was his performances on the global stage that catapulted him into the limelight.
The year 2016 marked a significant turning point in Babar's career. During a home series against the West Indies, Babar showcased his prowess with three consecutive centuries in the ODI series. These performances weren't just about the runs; they were a testament to his temperament, technique, and ability to dominate world-class bowling attacks. In the first match of the series, he scored a masterful 120 off 131 balls, announcing his arrival on the international scene. He followed this up with scores of 123 and 117 in the subsequent matches. With these knocks, Babar broke the record for the most runs (360) in a three-match ODI series, becoming the only batsman to score 350+ runs in such a series.
His consistency in the 50-over format was soon rewarded with a Test cap. Babar made his Test debut for Pakistan against the West Indies in Dubai on October 13, 2016. He marked the occasion with a gritty 69 runs in his first innings, becoming the first player to score a fifty on his Test debut in a day/night match. This performance was a clear indication that Babar was not just a limited-overs specialist; he had the technique and temperament to excel in the longest format of the game.
However, it wasn't just his batting that was making waves. Babar's fielding prowess and agility on the field added another dimension to his game. His commitment in the field, combined with his batting skills, made him an invaluable asset to the Pakistani side.
In January 2017, during the third ODI against Australia, Babar achieved another milestone. He became the joint-fastest player to score 1,000 runs in ODIs, reaching the landmark in just his 21st innings. This record was a testament to his consistency and ability to perform against top-tier teams. Later in the series, he scored a century, becoming only the second Pakistani batsman to score a hundred in Australia after the legendary Zaheer Abbas in 1981.
Babar's rise in the T20 format was equally meteoric. His maiden T20 century, a blistering 122 against South Africa, stands as the highest individual score by a Pakistani in the format. This knock, combined with his consistent performances, saw him climb the ICC T20I batting rankings, further solidifying his reputation as one of the best in the business.
His performances in the Champions Trophy 2017 further enhanced his stature. Babar played a crucial role in Pakistan's journey to the title, with notable contributions in crucial matches. His 46 off 52 balls in the final against India was instrumental in setting up a competitive total, which Pakistan successfully defended to clinch the title.
The subsequent years saw Babar further establishing himself as a mainstay in the Pakistani batting lineup. Whether it was the T20 series against the World XI, where he was the top run-scorer with 179 runs, or his performances in the Asia Cup 2018, Babar consistently delivered when his team needed him the most.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup was another platform where Babar showcased his class. Named as one of the five exciting talents making their World Cup debut by the International Cricket Council (ICC), Babar lived up to the expectations. He broke Javed Miandad's record for the most runs by a Pakistani batsman in a single edition of the World Cup, amassing 474 runs in 8 innings. His century against New Zealand, where he scored a brilliant 101 not out, was one of the highlights of the tournament. With this knock, he also became the first middle-order batsman from Pakistan to score a century in a World Cup match in over three decades.
Babar's rise to international fame is not just about the records and milestones; it's about the impact he has had on games and the assurance he brings to the Pakistani batting lineup. His ability to anchor the innings, combined with his flair to accelerate when required, makes him a unique talent. Moreover, his humility off the field and dedication to the game have earned him respect from peers and fans alike.
Babar Azam's journey in international cricket is punctuated with numerous milestones and records, each of which stands as a testament to his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to the sport. As we delve into the significant achievements of his career, it becomes evident why he is often regarded as one of the modern-day greats of cricket.
One of the most remarkable feats in Babar's career came early on when he played against the West Indies in 2016. During this series, he not only scored three consecutive centuries in the ODIs but also set the record for the most runs (360) in a three-match ODI series. This achievement was a clear indication of his consistency and ability to dominate bowling attacks, regardless of the opposition.
In the realm of T20 cricket, Babar's records are equally impressive. His maiden T20 century against South Africa, where he scored a scintillating 122, remains the highest individual score by a Pakistani in this format. This knock showcased his adaptability and prowess in the shortest format of the game. Moreover, his consistent performances in T20Is saw him ascend the ICC T20I batting rankings, further solidifying his reputation as a versatile batsman.
Babar's foray into Test cricket was marked with significant milestones as well. His debut against the West Indies in Dubai in 2016 was memorable, not just for his gritty 69 runs in the first innings but also because he became the first player to score a fifty on his Test debut in a day/night match. This performance was a clear indication of his ability to adapt to different formats and conditions.
Another noteworthy achievement came during the ODI series against Australia in 2017. Babar became the joint-fastest player to score 1,000 runs in ODIs, achieving this landmark in just his 21st innings. This record was not just about the numbers; it was a testament to his ability to perform consistently against top-tier teams. During this series, he also scored a century, making him only the second Pakistani batsman after the legendary Zaheer Abbas to score a hundred on Australian soil.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup was a significant platform where Babar's records spoke volumes about his class. He broke Javed Miandad's long-standing record for the most runs by a Pakistani batsman in a single edition of the World Cup. Babar amassed 474 runs in 8 innings, showcasing his consistency on the biggest stage of them all. His century against New Zealand was another feather in his cap, making him the first middle-order batsman from Pakistan to score a century in a World Cup match in over 32 years.
Beyond the numbers, Babar's milestones also reflect his growth as a cricketer. His leadership qualities, evident from his days leading the Pakistan U-19 team, saw him being handed the captaincy of the national side in all three formats. Under his leadership, Pakistan has seen a resurgence, especially in the shorter formats, with notable series wins against top teams.
Babar's records in the English county circuit are noteworthy as well. Playing for Somerset in the T20 Blast, he was the highest run-scorer in the 2019 edition, amassing 578 runs at an average of 52.54. His performances in foreign conditions, against quality bowling attacks, further highlight his adaptability and prowess as a world-class batsman.
In the context of Pakistani cricket, Babar's milestones hold even more significance. He is often compared to the greats of Pakistani cricket, and his records are a testament to his potential to be counted among the legends of the game. His ability to anchor the innings, combined with his flair to accelerate when required, has made him an invaluable asset to the Pakistani side.
Babar Azam's rise as a cricketer has been paralleled by his emergence as a leader. His leadership qualities, evident from his younger days, have seen him evolve into one of the most promising captains in the international circuit. Babar's captaincy journey began with leading the Pakistan U-19 team, where he showcased his ability to handle pressure and inspire his teammates.
When Babar was handed the captaincy of the national side, it came at a time when Pakistan cricket was undergoing a transitional phase. With several senior players retiring and the team's inconsistent performances, there was a need for a leader who could usher in a new era. Babar, with his calm demeanour and astute understanding of the game, seemed like the perfect fit.
One of the hallmarks of Babar's captaincy has been his ability to lead from the front. Whether it's anchoring the innings with a crucial knock or making tactical decisions in the heat of the moment, Babar has often showcased his mettle. His captaincy style is a blend of aggression and patience. He's not afraid to make bold decisions, but he also understands the importance of being patient and backing his players.
Under Babar's leadership, Pakistan has seen a resurgence in its performances, especially in the shorter formats. Notable series wins against top teams have been a testament to his leadership skills. Babar's captaincy has also been about building a team for the future. He has shown faith in young players, giving them opportunities and backing them to perform. This approach has not only brought fresh talent into the limelight but has also instilled a sense of belief within the team.
However, like any leader, Babar's captaincy tenure has not been without challenges. There have been series losses and tough phases. But what stands out is Babar's ability to learn from these experiences and come back stronger. His post-match interviews often reflect his analytical mind, where he breaks down the game and identifies areas of improvement.
Babar Azam's batting style is a blend of elegance and effectiveness. His cover drives, often compared to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, are a treat to watch. But it's not just about the aesthetics; Babar's technique is solid, making him one of the most dependable batsmen in the Pakistani lineup.
One of Babar's significant strengths is his ability to play the ball late. This allows him to adjust to the movement and pace of the delivery, especially in challenging conditions. Whether it's the swinging conditions of England or the spin-friendly tracks of the subcontinent, Babar's technique has often been his ally.
His ability to rotate the strike and find gaps is another aspect of his game that stands out. In the modern era, where big shots often dominate the narrative, Babar's knack for keeping the scoreboard ticking with singles and twos showcases his understanding of the game's nuances.
Babar's strength also lies in his adaptability. He has the ability to shift gears based on the situation. Whether it's anchoring the innings in a Test match or accelerating in a T20 game, Babar's versatility is evident in his performances across formats.
Apart from his batting, Babar's fielding is another aspect of his game that deserves mention. His agility and commitment in the field have made him one of the best fielders in the Pakistani side. Whether it's saving boundaries in the outfield or taking crucial catches, Babar's presence on the field often lifts the team's spirits.
What is Babar Azam's highest individual score in ODIs?
Babar Azam's highest individual score in ODIs is 158
How many centuries has Babar Azam scored in Test cricket?
Babar Azam has scored 9 centuries in Test cricket.
When did Babar Azam become the captain of the Pakistan cricket team?
Babar Azam became the captain of the Pakistan cricket team in November 2019.
What is Babar Azam's batting average in T20 internationals?
Babar Azam's batting average in T20 internationals is over 40.
How many centuries did Babar Azam score in the 2019 Cricket World Cup?
Babar Azam scored one century in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, against New Zealand.