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When it comes down to the leading ODI cricketer of 2021, Babar Azam’s name surely tops the list.
The Prolific Batsman has had a tremendous year in white ball cricket, piling up runs and as well as delivering goods for his country as the Captain of the side.
Let’s revisit what heroics he did to achieve this feat.
Tour to South Africa :
Babar’s year began when Pakistan toured South Africa in the month of April.
In that series, the Pakistani skipper was in his prime form. Chasing 274 in the first ODI,the Pakistan Team was in trouble when they lost an early wicket of Fakhar Zaman. Later, the skipper arrived at the crease and the tables turned upsidedown. He started building the innings and laid the foundation for his team to march on to victory.
Babar scored a magnificent century in the process, his 13th overall in just 76 innings. Thus, he became the fastest batter to reach this landmark.
With the series levelled 1-1, it was the turn of Azam to contribute with the bat again. Having been put to bat by the opposing side, Babar’s men started the innings with great aggression and later on the skipper himself scored a quick-fire 82-ball 94, guiding his team to a commendable total in the final ODI.
The 27-year old finished the series as the second highest run-scorer with 228 runs in 3 matches and was the Player of the Match in both of Pakistan’s wins in the 2-1 series triumph against South Africa. Not to forget the fact that it was Pakistan’s first ever away series victory over the Proteas since 2013 in ODI’s and they became the first Asian side to give them a taste of defeat in an away series twice.
Number 1 ODI Batsman :
It was non-other than Babar who ended the reign of Virat Kohli as the Number 1 ODI batsman. After the end of the South Africa series, he came to the throne of the number one spot in the ICC rankings surpassing the Indian batter.
Tour to England :
Pakistan’s tour to England was a bitter pill to swallow for the fans as the team was clean-swept 3-0 by the England side in the ODI series without the availability of their full-strength team due to quarantine.
However, the only plus point in the series for PCT was Babar Azam. He was the solitary fighter for Pakistan in the series. The Pakistani captain amassed 177 runs in three games, but he got no help from the other end as none of the players apart from him were able to score runs in those English conditions.
Career Best 158 :
Despite the mediocre batting by the Pakistan side against England, the batter proved to be the lone warrior as he managed to score his career-best score of 158 in the final ODI.
With the series already done and dusted, Pakistan were playing for pride and as well as for the crucial World Super League Points in the 3rd ODI.
Striding down to the crease at Number 3, Babar started slowly and scored his first runs after battling hard for 14 deliveries. He took his time to settle down and approached fifty in 72 balls. Once he got to his half-century, there was no looking back as the skipper shifted his gears and scored the next fifty in just 32 balls faced, raising his bat for another well-deserved hundred, his second of the year.
Once the milestone of scoring 100 was out of the way, Babar accelerated in the death overs and he almost batted throughout the innings, getting dismissed in the final over for 158 in 139 balls, his personal best score.
Babar Azam may have played just six ODIs in 2021, yet he made imperative commitments in the two series that PCT played. He scored 405 runs in 6 matches at a scintillating average of 67.50.