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Is Babar Azam best in the world? A tactical deep-dive

Is Babar Azam best in the world? Well, if you ask former England captain Michael Vaughan and former New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, they certainly think so!

Babar Azam’s rise and his staggering record in international cricket hasn’t been missed on anyone. While headlines with the bat have mostly been gathered by the Fab Four of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, along with India’s Rohit Sharma, Babar Azam has carved a unique niche for himself as one of the most stylish and consistent batsmen in the world.

In a Q&A session with ESPNCricinfo, former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori chose the Pakistan batsman when asked to pick the best batter in the world at the moment. “The different formats of the game make it tough to say overall, but right now, Babar Azam is the most in-form batter on the back of his series against Australia,” said the ex-Kiwi international.

Meanwhile, former England captain Michael Vaughan also chose Babar Azam as the best all-round batter in the world at the moment following his string of impressive performances against Australia recently.

His announcement came after Pakistan was set a challenging target of 506 in their fourth innings to win the second Test at the National Stadium in Karachi. However, the men in green batted out 171.4 overs on the last couple of days of the Test to settle for a draw. Babar Azam played a stellar knock of 196 in 425 deliveries but unfortunately, missed out on a well deserved double century by just four runs.

“Without question I think @babarazam258 is the best all-round Batter in the World right now .. Brilliant across all the formats .. #PAKvAUS,” tweeted Vaughan.

Why is Babar Azam best in the world right now?

FORMATMATCHESINNINGSRUNSBALLS FACEDNOT OUTSAVERAGESTRIKE RATE100s50sHS4s6sCAUGHTSTUMPED
ODIs8684426147191259.1890.29161815838942400
TESTs407128515301945.9853.7862119633514260
T20Is7368262020291045.17129.1212512227240340
T20s218209781461063645.16127.976661228061441090
LISTAs150147717782261956.0787.24263615868056670
FIRSTCLASS67111417973271342.6457.0382826652722430

Following the historic series against Australia at home, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam achieved his highest ever ODI rating of 891. He had amassed 276 runs during the three matches against Australia, which included consecutive ODI tons in the second and third match, thanks to which Pakistan won the series.

His tally of 891 ICC points is the 15th highest on ICC’s all-time list of ODI Rankings. It also took him past one of the greatest cricketers the sport has seen, India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who had achieved the best rating of 887 during the absolute peak of his career.

The only active player in the all-time Top 10 list is India’s Virat Kohli, to who Babar is frequently compared. Kohli had hit a career-high rating of 911 which is the sixth-highest in the ICC rankings. ormer West Indian cricketer, Vivian Richards, holds the all-time record rating of 935 points.

However, given the incredible form he has been in, Babar Azam has plenty of time to get past the 900-run mark and get into that illustrious club of cricketers. Pakistan will take on West Indies and The Netherlands in the upcoming ODI series and Babar will be hoping to capitalize on those opportunities.

Babar Azam best in the world: The rise and rise of the Pakistan opener

Babar Azam’s journey in cricket began very modestly: he loved playing the game on the streets around his family home in Lahore. However, by the age of 12, he was playing serious tape-ball cricket and at age 14 he had his first meaningful taste of failure in the sport as he was rejected from the national academy.

Not one to be bogged down by that, Babar first announced himself to the world during the 2009 U19 World Cup. He finished third on the run-scoring charts ahead of future superstars Joe Root, Ben Stokes, and KL Rahul. Still only 17, He also captained the side during the U19 Cricket World Cup 2012 in Australia where he finished once again among the top scorers. He had also become a regular in Pakistan’s domestic cricket tournaments by that point.

Babar made his ODI debut on 31 May 2015, in his hometown of Lahore at the Gaddafi Stadium. He took a very cautious and risk-free approach and made a 60-ball 54 despite wickets falling around him. A new star had arrived for Pakistan.

However, for the first year and a half, Babar Azam was often a passenger on the stage of international cricket. That changed on 30 September 2016, when he made his first ODI century against West Indies and thus, the floodgates opened. He notched two more hundreds in his next two innings against the West Indies, becoming the first cricketer to ever score their first three ODI centuries in consecutive innings.

Since that first ton against the Caribbean side, he has scored 16 ODI hundreds in 86 matches with an average of 59.18.

Much like how Babar Azam discovered his mojo in international cricket following the conquest of West Indies in 2016, he was also introduced to international Test cricket against the same opponents. He made his first Test match appearance against the West Indies in Dubai on 13 October 2016 and scored 69 runs in his first innings. He also became the first batsman to score a fifty on his Test debut in a pink-ball Test.

In 2017, Babar Azam played an important role as Pakistan defeated their arch-rivals India in the final to win the ICC Champions Trophy. This was their first international trophy in the One Day format in over 25 years. Babar wasn’t even born the last time Pakistan lifted the World Cup in 1992. The opener scored an important 46 in the final and averaged a healthy 44.33 for the tournament.

Although Pakistan were prevented from lifting the prestigious trophy during the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales, Babar Azam ended up making history anyway. He scored 474 runs at 67.61 to break Javed Miandad’s 1992 record for the most runs by a Pakistan batsman in a Cricket World Cup campaign.

Almost immediately after the World Cup, Babar Azam was made the ODI captain of Pakistan. Still only 27 years old, Babar Azam is the captain of Pakistan in all formats and his best years are still ahead of him. He already holds a plethora of records and achievements in the modern game.

Babar Azam is the fastest batter to reach 16 ODI centuries in terms of innings. He took only 84 innings to get to that milestone. In the recently held ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in UAE last year, he finished as the highest run-scorer, with 303 runs in 6 innings at an average of 60.6.

In T20Is, Babar Azam is the fastest player to reach 2000 runs, doing so in 52 innings and 2500 T20 runs, taking 62 innings. Babar also holds the record for the highest individual score by a Pakistani captain in ODIs.

On 24 October 2021, he also became the first Pakistani captain to defeat India in a World Cup game, doing so in the recently held T20 World Cup. ICC named him as the Men’s Cricketer of the Year in 2021 and he was also named as the captain of the ICC Men’s T20I and ODI Teams of the Year in 2021.

FAQs

What is Babar Azam’s ODI ranking?

The Pakistani captain is ranked number 1 in the world in ICC’s ODI batsman rankings. He is also ranked number 1 in the T20 format.

How many runs has Babar Azam has scored in all formats?

Across all formats in international cricket, Babar Azam has scored 9798 runs at the time of writing.

What is the age of Babar Azam?

The illustrious Pakistani cricketer was born on October 15, 1994. He is 27 years old.

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