How dynamic has been Babar Azam’s rise in International Cricket?

Making of a modern-day great: Babar Azam.

Remember the time when every young batsman playing for Pakistan was termed as ‘Pakistan’s answer to Virat Kohli’? Ahmed Shehzad was put under pressure by this tag, and he succumbed to it early in his career and could never rise to the hype. Many came, and none could match the class of Virat Kohli, who probably has been the best batsman of the previous decade. Then a certain Babar Azam latched on to the scene and announced himself at the biggest stage by scoring three back-to-back centuries against West Indies in 2016, a feat which he repeated some days ago and became the only batsman to score three consecutive hundreds on two different occasions. 

This extraordinary achievement comes in between a patch where Babar Azam has been in the form of his life and has shattered many records in the process. This year was crucial for Pakistan Cricket because, after the cancelling of the New Zealand and England tours, an air of uncertainty again loomed over the cricket-loving nation, but with Australia coming back to the country, it again showcased itself as one of the best venues for playing cricket. 

This was an all-important series, and it was here where Babar started his unreal streak of 50+ scores in 9 matches consecutively. In the 2nd match of the Test series, Australia were all over Pakistan when Babar came out to bat, chasing a mammoth 506 he needed to play for the entirety of the remaining match to save his side and what followed is probably one of the best knocks in the 4th innings of a test match, Babar scored a massive 196 runs and Pakistan managed a draw even though a win wasn’t out of the cards till the very last hour of the match, such was the innings Babar played. He followed this with scores of 67 and 55 in the final test match, which Pakistan lost. This was followed by a 57 in the first ODI in a losing cause. 

In the second ODI, Pakistan was chasing a total in excess of 340, and they needed to win the match to stay alive in the series. They required a huge knock, and their captain stepped up and scored an impressive century and did so at a strike rate of 137, exhibiting the different gears he could play in according to the situation. He put up a great partnership with Imam, who scored a century himself, and Pakistan cruised to victory. He scored another hundred in the final ODI to make sure that Pakistan won the series. Babar scored yet another half-century in the one-off t20, albeit in a losing cause. 

Fast forward to June, cricket returned back to Pakistan with West Indies coming to complete the tour, which had to be rescheduled due to Covid fear at the end of last year. Pakistan was chasing another score in excess of 300, but Imam and Babar paced their innings exceptionally well even though they did need some lusty blows by Khushdil Shah to seal the encounter. Such was the impact of the southpaw’s quickfire innings that Babar gave his man of the match award to him, which was a lovely gesture by the captain. This was Babar’s third consecutive century, and he was now looking at the Sri Lankan great Sangakkara’s record of 4 consecutive centuries in ODIs.

In the 2nd ODI, Babar started somewhat cautiously but managed to up his strike rate once he got the know-how of the pitch and was looking to score yet another century only to be out with a soft dismissal owing to a leading edge. 

But Babar had already made history. He became the first batsman to achieve the feat of scoring 9 consecutive 50+ scores in international cricket across all three formats. It would be very tough for any batsman to emulate the same kind of form and break this record in the future. Babar also became the fastest captain to score 1000 runs breaking yet another record of Virat Kohli.

Babar is, without any doubt, the best batsman across all formats currently, and if he continues his form, he would stay at the top for quite some time but can he? Can he emulate the consistency of Virat Kohli? Can he emulate what Virat Kohli did in the last decade? With the extra responsibility of captaincy, which Babar has delivered relatively comfortably so far, it would be exciting to see how Babar does in the future. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.

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