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The purple patch

Babar Azam, the youngest of the top batsmen in limited overs cricket, continues to break records

The purple patch
I

n the international circuit there are a few batsmen who are dominating world cricket with their consistent performances. Indian captain Virat Kohli, Australia’s Steven Smith, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and Pakistan’s Babar Azam are among them. Babar is the youngest player among them.

The 25-year-old Babar has an excellent record in both ODIs and T20Is, averaging 54.17 and 54.21, respectively. But he is less successful in Test cricket. In 40 innings of 21 Tests, he has scored 1235 runs, averaging 35.28 with one hundred and 11 fifties.

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.

Babar has an impressive ODI average of 54.17 behind Kohli’s 60.31 among the top ODI players. Even AB de Villiers (53.58), Joe Root (51.36), MS Dhoni (50.57) are behind him.

In the ICC ranking of ODI players, Babar Azam stands third after Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

In the Twenty20, Babar is on top of the ICC list while in Test cricket, Babar is 16th.

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.

Babar has played 74 ODIs, scored 3359 runs including 11 hundred and 15 fifties.

In 2019, Babar played 20 ODIs, scored 1,092, averaging 60.67, with three centuries and six fifties.

Babar has been named Pakistan’s vice-captain for the ongoing home series against Sri Lanka on the recommendations of head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq and the PCB Cricket Committee.

Babar is one of the best batsmen at number 3 in ODIs. In the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Karachi, Babar achieved another milestone when he became the fastest batsman to make 1,000 runs in a calendar year in ODIs for Pakistan. During this period he scored two centuries and seven half centuries. He is the only batsman to reach the 1,000-run mark in 2019 so far.

The 25-year-old took just 19 innings to reach the landmark, two less than Javed Miandad, who scored 1,000 runs in 21 innings in 1987.

Babar also went past Kohli to become the third fastest batsman to score 11 ODI hundreds.

Babar hit his 11th ODI century during the second ODI against touring Sri Lanka. This was his first match as vice-captain. He took just 71 innings to get to 11 hundreds, nine fewer than Kohli. Only Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock got 11 tons faster than him, having taken 64 and 65 innings, respectively.

In January 2017, Babar was also the joint-fastest player in history to score 1,000 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, joining West Indies great Viv Richards, England’s Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, and South Africa’s de Kock.

In the World Cup 2019, too, Babar’s performance was remarkable. He surpassed Miandad’s record of 437 runs in a single World Cup (1992). Despite Pakistan’s early exit, Babar finished with 474 runs in the cup.

Babar proved his class in the in the World Cup 2019 as he hit a century against New Zealand along with three 50s.

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 Green-shirts. Though Pakistan were knocked out by arch-rivals India, 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, but the match was washed out because of heavy rain.

Babar scored three consecutive ODI centuries against the West Indies in 2016 in the UAE.

He is the number one batsman in the shortest format with 896 points. Australia’s Glenn Maxwell is behind him with 815 points.

Babar also has the highest average — 54.21 — in the shortest format of the game. His closest competitor is Kohli, who averages 50.00.

 

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Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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