Babar Azam came to international prominence as a batsman for Pakistan against England in the 1995 Cricket World Cup. His impressive performance, along with the wicket of Grappendy Jarrar, helped Pakistan to become world champions. He became the youngest player ever to feature in an England side that won the trophy. Since then Babar has gone on to play for several other top-level teams, including UAE and Ireland. His impressive Test career also included three centuries and one hundred runs at the highest level, against New Zealand in the West Indies in 1997.
However, it was during the 1999 Pakistan vs England ODI series that the word “unequaled” was coined. This series is perhaps Pakistan’s most successful and also the most lopsided, winning by 3 wickets. Azam and his team-mates failed to pick up the momentum created by Grappendy Jarrar’s four consecutive wickets down the wicket. Azam eventually picked up his fourth wicket but was caught behind off stump by Grappendy Edge. Azam remained unbeaten on the day, although Grappendy Jarrar added another four wickets on the end of day’s play.
Despite picking up a valuable scalp, Azam and his team-mates were unable to maintain the same level of form which they displayed in their previous two matches against England. In the subsequent series against Zimbabwe, however, Azam played in a far more consistent manner, scoring century runs in each of the four matches that he played in the tournament. Azam has also shown great improvement in his bowling, and in fact improved significantly as far as the ability to control the ball was concerned, picking up 5 ducks in his 4 overs. Overall, Azam has become one of the key factors of a Pakistan team that has consistently been able to defeat England in all four matches.
Babar Azam has also led his team into some difficult situations, such as when his team was down to just nine players in a match against India at the 2021 Cricket World Cup. Pakistan initially seemed to lack the confidence to mount a challenge against an opponent with as much cricketing experience and ability as India. However, after some impressive displays by Azam, the Pakistani side eventually managed to win the match and go one step ahead of the Indians. In the process, Azam helped his team to go on to defeat the hosts in the next round of the championship. Azam’s achievements at the time were sufficient reason for all Pakistan fans to hope that the captain will continue to lead the team into further success.
As is evident from his current top-profile position in Pakistan’s team, Azam has a lot to offer to any team. But, it will be interesting to see what he can achieve in his next outing, as he bids to win the toss for the first time in his career against England in the Champions Trophy. Azam may have been given an extended holiday by the PCB, but there is no doubt that he has put in the necessary hours during his off times. And in case he does not win the toss for the first time, he should at least inspire other Pakistan players to perform better than normal and help his side to win. As it stands, Babar Azam seems to be the perfect captain for Pakistan; someone who commands respect and helps his team to do better than expected.
Azam, who scored his first century in test matches in April, has slowly built up some valuable experience in the lead-off spot in the order. This has come at a time when Butti has established himself as a great Twenty20 batsman. Azam is also proving useful when it comes to bowling. He has improved vastly since his Test debut in UAE in 2021 and is now playing an influential role in the side that bowling more successfully than any other.
Butt and Azam have formed an ideal tandem with wickets that have fallen three times for Pakistan in their last four trips to England. Azam has been particularly impressive, registering 20 runs from six overs against the hosts and making the most of his five overs of bat and ball. However, Butt has been unable to put in any consistent runs, although he did manage to collect one wicket in the very last over of the series. It is a disappointment that Butt has been unable to play a similar number of matches as he did during his Test career, as the turnaround in his performances has been far less impressive.
Butt’s only century in his debut season came against Australia, helping his side to a draw that day. Two days later, however, he was out injured, an injury picked up while playing in a Cricket World Cup qualifying match against India. This paved the way for Babar Azam to make his first century in competitive cricket for Pakistan against India at the MCG. Butt was dropped by the hosts in the tour opener, but has since then been one of the top-performing stars in the side, along with captaincy duties. Babar Azam has also picked up six wickets in the course of his five matches at the Cheltenham Festival.