Ashraf Ali Siddiqui describes a superb performance by a
Babar Azam’s record is maturing into an extremely dependable batsman with his performances improving by the day. During his batting against the visiting New Zealand team he achieved a distinct record by becoming the Pakistani batsman with the most runs — 2,436 — in all formats of the game in a calendar year. In the process, Babar broke the record of former captain and incumbent batting coach Mohammad Yousaf, who made the record in 2006 with 2,435 runs to his name. On his way to making this record Babar Azam played 51 innings in 44 matches in 2022 and averaged 55.30 with his highest score being 196. In this respect the Pakistan national team captain has scored eight hundreds and 17 fifties in the outgoing year.
Babar Azam claimed the record on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand while he was on his way to a century. He led Pakistan’s recovery to 224-4 at tea, after New Zealand’s spinners made early inroads. Despite plenty of runs he has piled up this year, Babar’s tally — to which he can still add — was some way short of the world record held by Ricky Ponting, who amassed 2,833 runs in 2005. Babar Azam knocked a fighting hundred and the recalled Sarfaraz Ahmed hit a half-century to guide Pakistan to a healthy 317-5 on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand in Karachi. The pair led Pakistan’s recovery from 110-4 during a 196-run fifth wicket stand, as the home team lost only Ahmed’s wicket in the last two sessions.
In an interesting development the current series against New Zealand witnessed the break-up of Babar Azam-Rizwan partnership that was something that Pakistani cricket fans have grown accustomed to and have started to accept it as the natural order of things. But this development may prove disappointing to many cricket fans though some are in favour of the change as they think that Sarfaraz is an equally good player.
It is also pointed out that skipper Babar Azam has no intention of giving up the Pakistan captaincy despite overseeing a first-ever 3-0 Test series whitewash at home, saying that leading the side was a matter of honour. Pakistan lost to England in the third and final Test in Karachi by eight wickets, after going down in the first two matches by 74 runs in Rawalpindi and 26 in Multan. It was also the first time Pakistan has lost four Tests in a row having been beaten by Australia in Lahore in March. TW