Babar Azam reveals his Test career-changing innings

The 25-year-old is the only cricketer in the ICC Player Rankings to feature in the top-six across the three formats

Babar Azam reveals his Test career-changing innings PHOTO: AFP

The year 2019 was a prolific one for batting sensation Babar Azam. The right-handed middle-order batsman stamped his authority on the international circuit across the three formats with some scintillating display of stroke-play that left the fans in awe across the cricketing world.

Be it the bouncy tracks of South Africa and Australia, the high-octane International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2019 matches, Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) or the emotions of the return of Test cricket to Pakistan, Babar left an indelible mark with his class, charisma, style, elegance, temperament and powers of concentration.

In six Tests, Babar scored 616 runs at 68.44 at a hugely impressive strike-rate of 72.30 with the help of three centuries and three half-centuries.

“Test cricket was quite rewarding for me this year. For the past two years, I wasn’t quite living up to my own and cricket fans’ expectations in the longest format. This year, I worked on improving the mistakes I made in the format and was able to overcome some of them which helped me make some runs,” said Babar. “The more you play the longer format, the more you understand the nuances of the game and find your way. My innings in South Africa against Dale Steyn gave me great pleasure and confidence that I can get into the Test match zone. I also learned how to convert 60s and 70s into 100s, and then my century in Australia gave me confidence that I can make big runs in the format.”

“When you score in places like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand against formidable bowling attacks, you get self-belief and confidence. I rate the century against Australia as my best innings of the year in Test format,” he added.

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In 20 ODIs, Babar totalled 1,092 runs at 60.66. His strike-rate was 93.30 and the runs tally included three centuries and six half-centuries.

“This year, I played my first 50-over World Cup. It was a big occasion and I really enjoyed the event [Babar scored a Pakistan record 474 runs in the tournament at 67.71],” he said. “As a kid, I used to follow World Cups very keenly on television. When I got selected for the big event, I set a goal of doing something big and different. Being the top batsman in my team was always a target for me. The World Cup gave me an opportunity of getting recognised at the highest level, which gave me real satisfaction.”

“My innings against New Zealand (101*, 127b, 11x4) was my best in the tournament and it taught me a great deal of how to bat and bail the team out in a pressure situation,” he added.

In 10 T20Is, Babar contributed 374 runs at 41.55 with a strike-rate of 136.99. Babar scored a total of four half-centuries in T20Is this year.

It is no surprise that Babar is the only cricketer in the ICC Player Rankings to feature in the top-six across the three formats - No.6 in Tests, No.3 in ODIs and No.1 in T20Is.