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Numero Uno

Babar Azam, the top-ranked T20I player in the world, is the only batsman in the shortest format of the game to have an average of more than 50 runs

Numero Uno

Pakistan whitewashed Australia in their Twenty20 series last week. It was Pakistan’s tenth consecutive T20 series win. Under Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan haven’t lost a series in this format. The 3-0 win earned Pakistan four points, lifting them to 136 points. Australia dropped five points to 118.

Even if New Zealand win the T20 series against Pakistan, the Green-shirts will continue to lead. But the Kiwis’ win will help them move ahead of England and Australia in third position.

The series against Australia was another memorable one for young Babar Azam; he scored 163 runs in three matches, averaging 54.33.

With his outstanding performance, he jumped four places to reach top position in the T20 batting rankings. He displaced Australia captain Aaron Finch from the number one position. Finch scored 0, 3 and 1.

Babar is the only batsman in the shortest format of the game to have an average of more than 50 runs. His closest competitor is Indian captain Virat Kohli, who averages 48.88.

In January 2017, Babar became the joint-fastest player in history to score 1,000 career runs in ODIs when he struck a 100-ball 84 against Australia in the third ODI in Perth. He reached the landmark in just 21 innings to join West Indies great Viv Richards, England’s Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.

He was named in the Pakistan squad for Zimbabwe series at home in May 2015. In his first ODI, in Lahore, he scored a fluent 54, off just 60 balls. But the match was washed out because of heavy rain.

The 24-year-old Babar has an excellent record in both ODIs and T20Is, averaging 51.92 and 53.64, respectively. But unfortunately he is not as successful in Test cricket. In 29 innings of 15 Tests, he has scored 747 runs, averaging only 29.88 with seven fifties.

In ODIs, he has scored eight centuries and as many fifties in 49 innings. Babar scored three consecutive ODI centuries against the West Indies in 2016 in the UAE.

Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara has said that Babar is one of the most exciting young talents he has seen in a long time.

Azam served as the captain of the Pakistan team at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup. He has started his career on a promising note. His temperament and technique are as good as any other world class player.

With his consistent performance and style of play, people have started comparing Babar to Kohli. No doubt Babar is talented but it is too soon to compare him with such a player as Kohli. The Indian captain is the world’s best batsman; he has been smashing records, one after another. Kohli has scored over 10,000 runs in ODIs, including 38 centuries and 48 fifties, averaging close to 60. Babar has to learn a lot of cricket from the Indian captain.

Five of Babar’s eight ODI centuries came in the UAE. He still needs to prove himself in overseas series.

Babar has played 10 ODIs in England, but failed to score even a fifty. His highest score on English soil is 46. On the other hand, Kohli has scored centuries everywhere.

It’s good that Babar accepted during the Pakistan-West Indies series in April this year that he is “nowhere near” Kohli, calling the captain of the Indian national team a “legend”.

He said he tried to play like Kohli but at this stage he should not be compared to the Indian great.

Babar is a cousin to Akmal brothers (Kamran, Umar and Adnan). Critics rate him above Umar because of his consistent performances.

 

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Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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