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In the fifth and final ODI of the ongoing home series, Pakistan’s skipper and ace batter Babar Azam’s 100th ODI will be something to witness. He will hit the field to play his 100th ODI against the Kiwis. This is a major milestone in the career of the 28-year-old Pakistani ace batter. Babar will become the first player in the current squad to play 100 ODIs for Pakistan. Babar, during his short stint at the international level, has managed to establish himself as one of the finest batters in the world courtesy of his consistent performance in all formats of the game.
Reliving the Journey till Babar Azam’s 100th ODI as it unfolds for him
Azam made his ODI debut in the third match of the home series against Zimbabwe while touring Pakistan. Playing in Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in front of his home crowd, the ace batter managed to notch up a brisk 54 off 60 balls. This impressive first outing ensured his place in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka. After this, the young batter featured in ODIs against England, New Zealand, and Zimbabwe but only managed to draw in a few notable performances. Azam showed glimpses of class against the Kiwis, where he managed to punch in with a 72-ball 62 in Basin Reserve and a 77-ball 83. The star batter ended the series with the highest number of runs, 145, at a staggering average of 72.50.
Babar Azam announced his arrival during the home series against the Windies, where he amassed three consecutive ODI centuries and broke the record for most runs in a three-match ODI series. Thus becoming the only batter with more than 350 plus runs in a three-match ODI series. It was the ODI series against the Aussies where he managed to notch up a brilliant 100 and become the only batter after Zaheer Abbas to hit an ODI ton in Australia. It was these performances that earned the right-handed batter high praises from cricketing legends. In one such instance, Pointing took to his twitter handle and tweeted:
These magnanimous feats during the early stages of his career were a precursor to a dazzling cricket career that stared at cricket pundits and experts.
Also read: Bold or Rigid- A critical check on Babar Azam’s captaincy
Rise to the Top and the Record-Breaking Barrage
The right-handed top-order ace has a penchant for breaking and creating new records. In his short career as an international cricketer, Babar Azam has accomplished many awe-inspiring feats. The most recent among them was the fastest batter to 5000 ODI runs in a mere 97 innings (99 matches). The latter also managed to become the quickest batter to reach 18 ODI tons by breaking the previous record held by Protease batting great Hashim Amla (102 innings). Babar also holds the record for most runs in the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, a whopping 1454 in just 21 matches at a staggering average of 76.52, and also has six scintillating centuries under his belt.
The Pakistani skipper also holds the highest average (min. 1000 runs) of 74.68 in 23 innings as a captain and before Babar Azam’s 100th ODI, the latest feather in the cap is his leading role in taking his team to the top of the ICC ODI rankings as a captain. The feat is one of immense magnanimity, as the team has reached the top for the first time in its 74 years of cricketing history in the 50-over format. If all these glittering feats weren’t enough to silence his critiques Azam added to his trophy cabinet the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, as well as the Men’s ODI cricketer of Year 2022. Thus, becoming the first-ever Pakistani cricketer to do so.
The all-around career graph of the Pakistani captain is somewhat an epitome of consistency and class. With the only current batter in the world to be in the top 5 of all ICC rankings and his absolute dominance in the T20 format, finding his feet in the longer format of the game earlier on was a problem for the Lahore-born batting sensation, but his recent performances and run-scoring spree are a clear indication of a growing career graph.
To sum it all up, the journey from a young ball picker to one of the most admired cricketers of the current era has been nothing short of a fairy tale for the Pakistani batting star. Babar Azam’s 100th ODI will taste sweeter as it is in front of his home crowd and deep down he will feel destiny has completed a major cycle of the journey. He has achieved all this so fast and so elegantly with a calming demeanour. Every record is broken and amassed aesthetically and each of his critics and fans knows that there is a lot more to come.