Babar Azam’s international career is just over 100 matches old, but his prowess with the bat has already broken several records. He is the fastest batsman to reach 1,000 T20I runs, taking 26 innings to get there and dethroning Kohli in the process.
He also reached 1,000 ODI runs in 21 innings, a record he shared with an elite group of players, including West Indies great Viv Richards and England power-hitter Kevin Pietersen, until his Pakistan team-mate Fakhar Zaman broke it last year.
Azam’s classy stroke-making has provided the platform for his record-breaking run spree, and he often single-handedly drives Pakistan to competitive totals in sluggish conditions in the United Arab Emirates, the national team’s adopted home.
Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has brushed aside criticism that he is too selfish when batting, pointing out that “I am not playing for myself”.
Azam’s comments come after he was criticised badly for his 112 off 108 balls against Afghanistan in a World Cup warm-up match, which Pakistan ended up losing the match by three wickets.
Azam noted that since Pakistan were losing wickets while he was at the crease, his job was to build partnerships with other batsman while ensuring he didn’t get out. I didn’t play for myself, we were losing wickets and my job was to build partnerships, said Babar.
“I play according to the plan given to me by the team, I am not playing for myself, this isn’t my team, this is Pakistan’s team and I play for it.”
Azam is confident he can switch gears if the situation demands more aggression.
“If I can be number one in the world without power hitting, then I don’t need power hitting,” Babar said. “But when I need to, I utilise it well. My individual role is to take the innings as deep as I can and perform in a way that benefits the team most.”
Babar believes that he is in decent form and is determined to maintain it at the World Cup, which begins in England and Wales on May 30.
“My form is quite good and I am looking to continue it,” said Babar Azam.
“The England series was quite helpful and the conditions were good and hopefully they’ll continue to be like that.”
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed believes Babar Azam will be the national team’s “main batsman” at the World Cup.
Sarfraz’s comments come after Azam scored a sensational 112 off 108 balls against Afghanistan in a World Cup warm-up match, but Pakistan still ended up losing the match by three wickets.
“Babar played a good knock, he’s our main batsman,” said Sarfraz.
Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur believes that Babar Azam is Pakistan’s key player at the World Cup.
“We have some serious batsmen in our team but he has the ability to be as good as anyone in the world,” Arthur said of the right-handed batsman. “If he’s getting us a 100, we’re comfortable we have the batsmen around him to get 300-320.
“Over the last two years, his strike rate is around 80 and he knows he needs to increase that, as do some of the other batsmen and we’ve spoken about that.”