Pakistan captain Babar Azam has dethroned Indian skipper Virat Kohli from the top ICC ODI ranking – a position he had been holding since October 2017. Babar’s scores of 103 and 94 in the first and third match of the recently concluded ODI series against South Africa in South Africa took him past Kohli to the numero uno rank. The Pakistan captain also stands out in the other two versions of the game, placed on the third and sixth position in the T20I and Test rankings respectively. This makes Babar the only Pakistani batsman – and one of the only two in the world, along with Kohli – to feature in the top 10 ICC rankings in all three formats of the game. In fact, Kohli finds a place among top 5.
Babar’s recent exploits with the bat have equated him with Pakistan batting legends like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Muhammad Yousuf who have grabbed the top ICC ranking for one-dayers during their career. Babar has been in superb form currently, having also hit a century and a fifty in the three T20I games of the ongoing four-match series that Team Pakistan has been leading 2-1. His century, in the third game, coming off just 49 balls, was a true treat to watch – the fastest T20I century by a Pakistani batsman. Along with Mohammad Rizwan who scored 73 not out off 47 balls, Babar shattered other records too. The partnership between the two is now Pakistan’s highest for any wicket in T20Is; it is also the highest opening wicket partnership against South Africa by any country. Babar is cruising along nicely to reach the top T20I ranking too.
In Babar, Pakistan have found a dependable batsman who not only has the technique and temperament to suit Test cricket, but also has the ability to use long handle required in one-dayers and T20. The prolific batsman does feel the captaincy pressure too. In fact, captaincy has brought the best out of him. Kudos to Babar Azam.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2021.
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