Babar Azam’s credentials in limited-overs cricket have long been established, but his 196 against Australia placed him alongside some of the game’s greats in the longer format.
Azam batted for 10 hours and 7 minutes in a 425-ball innings to help Pakistan salvage a draw in the second Test in Karachi on Wednesday.
His brave innings set a new record for the second-longest fourth-innings knock in a Test, trailing only Michael Atherton’s 185 not out, which guaranteed England saved the 1995 Johannesburg Test against South Africa.
In 14 Tests, Babar has an average of 39.30 and has scored 809 runs in SENA countries. He does, however, have a strong record in England, where he scored 263 runs at an average of 65.75 in his most recent visit.
If we don’t see otherwise, he’s technically sound, a brilliant player, a match-winner, and a responsible batsman. That is why he has a good chance of joining the Fab Four once he starts scoring runs in these countries on a regular basis.
It was an incredible innings, made all the more significant by the fact that Pakistan had been bowled out for only 148 runs in their first innings. So they were attempting to rescue the match, and if they had more time, they could have even won it. It was a significant blow in light of that.
Azam progressed from being a ball boy at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore during the 2007 Test between Pakistan and South Africa to playing in the 2010 Junior World Cup and then captaining his country two years later, making the most runs on both occasions.
With a magnificent 266 for State Bank versus Habib Bank in the domestic Quaid Trophy Silver league in 2014, he learned the technique of occupying the crease.
He made his one-day international debut five months later and hasn’t looked back since. In Test cricket, though, he was sluggish to get going, with his first century coming in the 32nd innings.
The Pakistani captain had a slow start in Test cricket, averaging 23.75 in his first two years, but his incredible run in limited-overs cricket has obscured his development as a Test batsman. Even in the dry early days of the format, there were hints of his best work.
In Hamilton, he scored a magnificent 90* against a New Zealand attack when his team was reeling at 51 for 5. A few more notable knocks followed in 2018 and early 2019. His range as a Test batter was demonstrated with a 127* from No.6 against New Zealand in Dubai, a hundred at the Gabba, and a 97 at Adelaide.
On the Australia trip, Azam hit 104 and 97, indicating that he may be considered a member of the “Fab Four,” which includes Australia’s Steve Smith, India’s Virat Kohli, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, and England’s Joe Root.
In ODI and T20I cricket, Azam is ranked first but seventh in Test cricket, according to the International Cricket Council.
There may be a “Fab Five” in the not-too-distant future, thanks to his Karachi effort.