Pakistan has always been the land of extreme fast bowlers. The culture of fast bowling there is because of the tape ball cricket competitions in Pakistan, which are all about bowling with extreme pace. This speed thrill has helped develop some of the most lethal and the fastest bowlers ever. Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, and Mohammad Amir are a few of the many greats to name. But, when is comes to the batting department, there aren’t many players who we can consider on the levels of the greatest of all time. Don’t get me wrong, there have been so many great batters from the country, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Inzamam Ul Haq, Younis Khan, and more. But there’s one batsman now who has shown promise, skill, talent, and performances on the big stage that we can finally say that Pakistan has one of the greats of the game, and that is Babar Azam. Dominating the ICC rankings in all formats, he is regarded as one of the best batters of the modern generation.
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In this chapter by ZAP, let’s look at the career of Babar Azam till now, his runs, his centuries, his playing style, and extrapolate what level he can reach and where he can cement his name in the greatest of the game.
Babar Azam’s Birthday, Age, Childhood and Introduction to Cricket:
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Babar was born on October 15, 1994 (current age 29) in Lahore and from a very young age started playing cricket in the streets like all of us do. Umar Akmal and Kamran Akmal, the renowned cricketers from the Pakistan cricket team are cousins to Babar, and this is where his motivation to play the sport professionally rose. He joined his coach, Rana Sadiq’s academy, and worked mercilessly hard on his batting fundamentals which would later go on to become one of the strongest parts of his playing style. He was also the ball boy at the Gaddafi Stadium during the home series that Pakistan played in 2006 and 2008. His hard work didn’t stop though, he continued honing his skills and his first breakthrough came when he was selected for the Pakistan U-19 Team in the year 2010 when he was only 15 years old. He continued shining with the bat for the team for three years from 2010-2012 and became Pakistan's all-time highest run scorer in U-19 World Cups scoring 585 runs. All of his talent and hard work was paying off and his international call-up was very close.
Babar Azam’s International Cricket Debut and Career:
In May 2015, Babar Azam burst onto the international cricket scene for Pakistan, with a memorable ODI debut against Zimbabwe. Scoring an impressive 54 runs on debut, he showed his class on the very first opportunity he got to play for the team. His early defining moment came during the home series against England. In the first ODI, Babar's unbeaten 62 not out helped Pakistan to victory. Though he faced ups and downs in the subsequent matches, he finished the series with a solid batting average of 46.33.
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It was in 2016 when Babar completely announced himself on the biggest stage scoring three consecutive ODI hundreds and also set a new record for the most runs (360) in a 3-match ODI series. He continued with his momentum and became the joint-fastest to reach 1,000 ODI runs, later surpassed by his countryman, Fakhar Zaman. His Test match debut came against the West Indies where he scored 69 runs in an innings and became the first player to score a half-century on debut in a day/night Test.
He won Pakistan's ODI Player of the Year at the PCB Awards in 2017 and was named in the ICC World ODI XI in the same year. Babar made his ICC ODI World Cup Debut in 2019 in England and even scored his first World Cup century against New Zealand, in the same match in which he surpassed the 3,000 run mark in the ODI format.
Though he had led Pakistan in the absence of Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and vice-captain Azhar Ali, he took over the leadership duties completely for the first time and became the T20I captain in 2020 and led the team to its first series win under his leadership against Bangladesh. Babar continued to make headlines, becoming the joint-fastest batsman to reach 1,500 T20I runs and later captaining Pakistan in ODIs against Zimbabwe, where he shone with a brilliant century.
Babar's dominance continued in 2021 as he surpassed Virat Kohli to become the fastest player to reach 13 ODI hundreds. He set records in 2022 when he surpassed Mohammad Yousuf becoming the highest Pakistani run scorer in a calendar year. He also overtook England's Joe Root to become the highest run scorer in Test Cricket in 2022.
In 2023, he not only became the fastest batter ever to reach 5,000 ODI runs and scored his third T20I century, but he also guided Pakistan back to the top of the ICC ODI standings after 33 years.
Babar Azam Captaincy:
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Babar Azam took over the captaincy of Pakistan completely in 2020 in the T20I and ODI Format and later became the Test captain in 2021. Prior to his captaincy tenure, the Pakistan team was a struggling side under the leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed and underperforming players. Despite this added responsibility to take the team to the top, he didn’t let it affect his personal performance. Though he is not known much for his deep cricketing strategy, he has shown signs of modern thinking and even led the Pakistan team to multiple victories and even a famous win against India in the 2021 T20 World Cup. The team was flying high and even reached the final of the 2022 T20 World Cup final, which they lost against England Team. But it was in 2023 when it all went downhill. With unimpressive performances both with the bat and as the captain, Pakistan crashed out of the tournament without even making it into the knockouts and finished 5th. Babar resigned from the captaincy duties from all formats of the game.
Babar Azam Stats – Runs and Total Centuries:
Babar Azam has scored a total of 3,807 runs in Test matches, with a highest score of 196, and an impressive batting average of 47.00. During his Test career, he has scored 9 centuries and 26 half-centuries. In One Day Internationals (ODIs), Azam is all about consistency and has been extremely prolific, scoring a total of 5,729 runs at an outstanding average of 56.72. His highest score in ODIs is 158, and he has registered an impressive tally of 19 centuries and 32 half-centuries. Babar shines brightest in the shortest format of the game scoring 3,485 runs in T20Is with an average of 41.48. His highest T20I score is 122, and has smashed 3 centuries and 30 half-centuries.
In all three formats combined, Babar Azam has a total of 13021 runs and has scored a total of 31 centuries in his career.
Babar Azam Playing Style Batting Technique and Trademark Cover Drive:
Babar is the most technically sound batsman in the game currently and the technique that he plays with is pristine. First, his batting stance is as optimal as it can get and his footwork too is superfluid. His stable head position combined with the previous two qualities helps him get into shot playing positions quickly and play strokes all around the ground. Another crucial aspect of Azam's style is his ability to bat on all types of cricket pitches. He usually prefers playing with the traditional approach, playing through the V and down the ground, which shows how good his technique is and his ability to keep his head still while playing shots. Some of his best shots are the straight drive, the on-drive and off-drive, and the cover drive.
Babar is not one of the fittest players in the world and that remains his biggest criticism. Former Pakistan player Abdul Razzaq has even stated that he needs to ramp up his fitness levels to have a long-lasting and injury-free career to play long enough to realize his true potential.
Babar Azam Records in Tests, ODIs and T20Is:
- Record holder for most runs by a Pakistani batter in the last innings of a Test - 196 vs Australia in Karachi 2022.
- Most deliveries faced by a batter in the 4th innings of a Test - 425 vs Australia in Karachi 2022.
- Fastest Asian batsman to reach 3000 runs in ODI cricket (68 innings).
- Record holder for the most runs in the first 25 innings of his career (1306 runs).
- The only cricketer to score 5 consecutive centuries in a single country (United Arab Emirates).
- Fastest batsman to score 7 ODI centuries (33 innings).
- Fastest captain to reach 1000 ODI runs (in 13 innings).
- The only batter to score 3 consecutive ODI centuries twice.
- Longest reigning No.1 ranked T20I batter
- Fastest batsman to reach 1000 runs in T20 internationals (26 innings).
- Fastest to 2000 and 2500 T20I runs.
- Joint-fastest to 3000 T20I runs.
Read About All Other Records in the Sport:
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Babar Azam is one of the best batsmen of this generation, but there’s another player who shares the title of being the best of this generation, and that is Virat Kohli. Both play for the biggest rival nations in cricket and comparison between the two players is inevitable. Virat Kohli’s legacy right now is too hard to match for any batter in the world. His century records in all three formats of the game, his runs tally, and his batting average are unmatched. But, the only batsman in the game right now capable of matching Kohli's achievements is Babar Azam. He can play well in test cricket, and he is nearly as good in limited overs as Virat Kohli. One negative he has is that many a times he fails to pace his innings correctly and usually goes into a cautious state rather than playing fearlessly and on merit. There is no reason why he can't beat Kohli if he keeps playing the way he is for the next ten years, only adding some more refinement to his batting approach and technique.
Q - What is Babar Azam’s Net Worth?
Babar’s net worth is around $5-6M (around 41 Crore INR).
Q - What is the name of Babar Azam’s wife?
Though there are reports of Azam having tied the knot, in reality, he is still unmarried.
Q - How many ODI centuries does Babar Azam have?
Azam has scored a total of 19 centuries in ODIs, 9 in Test matches, and 3 in T20Is.
Babar Azam is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen of the current generation and has dominated the three formats of the game with the bat. His batting technique is pristine with his trademark cover drive one of the best in the world. Though he has achieved a lot already, he still has a long way to go to be considered in the all-time GOATs of the game.
Now that you have read about Babar Azam, here are some more cricket legends we recommend you read about: