After the retirements of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, there were always question marks as to who will fill the void left by the legendary cricketers. Babar Azam made his debut in 2015 for Pakistan and showed signs of early promise like many before him.
He was always a great player in the making and was the highest-run scorer for Pakistan at the U-15 level. Azam represented Pakistan twice in the U-19 World Cups. Fast forward to 2017 and Azam has already cemented his place in the national side for the limited-overs format. With seven hundreds from 36 one-day games, he is easily Pakistan’s best player in the lineup. The right-handed batsman coming in at no.3 has shown much more consistency with the bat than his predecessors.
Babar has not only scored runs in United Arab Emirates but also was able to produce a century in Australia where other batsmen found it tough to score runs. He has all the shots in the book and follows the modern template of the one-day game. He always manages to take quick singles and keep the scoreboard ticking. In the second game of the series against Sri Lanka, the hosts were reeling at the half-way mark but Azam kept the scoreboard ticking to produce a big partnership with Shadab Khan. Pakistan ended up with a modest total and eventually went on to win the game. Azam has to his name 1,758 runs at a staggering average of 58.60 with a strike rate of 85.88 in limited-overs cricket.
The 22-year old has already added quite a few records to his name and also was able to hit three centuries on the trot against West Indies in the one-day series played in UAE. Inzamam-ul-Haq was the last true great player in one-day cricket as Younis could never achieve wonders in this format in comparison to his career in Test cricket.
At the rate in which he is going, Azam would eventually find his place in the list of the all-time batting greats produced by Pakistan. Even teammates recognize his importance at the top of the order. Shoaib Malik recently stated that Azam is the lynchpin in the current batting lineup due to his superlative performances
Malik also appreciated Azam’s constant effort towards improving his game. In fact, Azam has been termed as the next big hope for Pakistan due to his consistently good performances for the past two years. Pakistan Cricket Board and selectors must show consistency in their policies to make sure Azam can represent the country for more than a decade.
However, the only shortcoming has been his performances in the five-day format. He struggled to find form and get going in the recently concluded two-match Test series played against Sri Lanka in UAE. After 11 Test matches, Azam averages 23.75 with a highest score of 90*. Surely, Azam is a much better player than his record suggests in the five-day format.
Head coach Mickey Arthur is an admirer and wants him to work hard to cement his place in the Test side as well. Arthur said Babar is a good player but needs to tinker his approach a little bit to make sure he translates his limited-overs success into the longer format of the game.