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What Babar Azam Brings to the Table as Pakistan’s Captain

Pakistan’s batting prodigy, Babar Azam’s rise in world cricket was reaffirmed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recently when he was named as the new One Day International captain of the national team. The 25-year-old replaces former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed in the ODI format. After being already named the T20I captain late last year, this move makes him the undisputed white-ball king of Pakistan cricket. Meanwhile, Azhar Ali will continue to lead the side in Tests.

Pakistan last played an ODI in September 2019, post which Sarfaraz was removed from the role of both the Test and T20I captain. There seemed to be a lot of ambiguity over the ODI leadership and some felt that the wicket-keeper batsman might retain his job. However, last month, when the PCB announced their central contract list for the 2020-21 season they also made the high-profile announcement of Babar Azam taking up the mantle to lead Pakistan’s white-ball cricket.

Azam was born in Lahore, a first cousin to the Akmal brothers, and cricket was ingrained in the kid from his childhood. Azam made his way up through age-group cricket with his journey beginning at an Under-15 World Championship in 2008. He went on to feature in two Under-19 World Cups in 2010 and 2012, where he was Pakistan’s top run-scorer. It’s during his Under-19 days that his tryst with captaining a team began.

Azam shot to the limelight with a series of strong performances in 2016, where he scored three consecutive ODI hundreds against West Indies in the UAE. His hat-trick of centuries ensured a Test call up and in just his third Test, he scored a 90 in Hamilton, at just a tender age of 22. Since then, he has played 74 ODIs and scored at an incredible average of 54.17.

Pakistan have found themselves lagging behind most other top-tier cricket teams a little too often over the past decade when it comes to the fielding and fitness standards, but Babar Azam has always been a knight in the shining armour for them. Pakistan are in the age of Azam and there are barely any batsmen as stylish as him in world cricket.

Azam wants to emulate the charismatic leader Imran Khan and wants to follow his attacking captaincy style. Most Pakistani captains of the past have gone in a shell due to the pressure on them and their batting has gone for a toss in these situations. Azam will have to do his best to make sure that he remains the same batsman he currently is and continues to lead from the front.

He is sure to further chisel his art of captaincy once he’s in the job and we believe the more he captains the better he’ll get. Not only will he have to back his own decisions and stick to them, but at the same time, he’ll need to use the experience of the senior players around him whenever necessary for the betterment of the team.

He’ll start his captaincy reign in the three-match T20I series against England away from home. His major test will come in the T20I World Cup in Australia which will be his first major ICC tournament as a captain. He is also being considered as the natural successor to Azhar Ali in Test cricket, as Azhar is a decade older than Azam. That transition may take its time but how Babar Azam revolutionizes white-ball cricket for Pakistan is something that we are eager to watch.

Read: A Look at the Guidelines for the Resumption of World Cricket

 

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