Babar Azam is bringing the glory days back to Pakistan

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Babar Azam is the gretest poster by Pakistan Cricket has produced in forever

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Babar Azam is bringing the glory days back to Pakistan

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Gantavya Adukia

08/07/2022

Babar Azam has brought the spotlight back on Pakistan Cricket after long by quietly building his reputation as the world's finest batsman while all eyes stayed fixated on the fab four. He is perhaps the greatest beacon of hope for 22 crore people and it is time we all started acknowledging it.

For a long time now, the legacy of Pakistan cricket has been buried in the sands of time, crawling beneath the middle-eastern deserts hoping to catch one ray of sunshine. The country had failed to produce any consistent world-class batsman for a decade, a pitiful fall from grace from the days of Javed Miandad and Saeed Anwar, Inzamam ul Haq and Younus Khan. To add salt to their wounds, the team lost its right to play on home soil, resigned to plying their trade in faraway lands, forced to accept unfamiliar grounds as their own. The whole world could see the heritage of a cricketing nation slipping away like sand in an enclosed fist.

At the same time, the entire country has been facing difficult circumstances across the board, struggling financially and politically in an increasingly complex geopolitical scenario. Yet, one thing that you’ll never be deprived of in the subcontinent is a constant sense of hope. The instinct to never give up, to view the glass half-full, to believe in the coming of something great; in the calm before the storm.

Lo and behold, there arrived Babar Azam right on cue, the manifestation of their prayers in the flesh. His blazing aura burned brighter than the whole damn sun for them, never mind a slight ray of hope. The starlet’s charisma off the field and performances on it seem to have reignited the passion for the team, sucking in neutrals with some of the finest batting ever seen while leading from the front in the most extraordinary circumstances.

There is a marked difference that separates a good player from a great, something that doesn’t come easy but has to be earned with time. Azam not only transcends that line but goes way beyond that, with the potential of becoming one of the greatest to have graced our game. Perhaps the two aspects that define a great are consistency and mentality.

Babar is as consistent as cricketers come, averaging over 50 in his international career across formats and having over 10,000 runs. As for mentality, coming up with unbelievable displays when his back against the wall has become the hallmark of Azam’s game, with his most extraordinary innings coming in the least expected circumstances. His knack for adapting to situations is uncanny and his instinct for digging out of them, immaculate.

But what makes Azam so easy to root for is his presence on the field. The 27-year-old has the aura of a storm brewing within when he takes the crease, yet he always presents a picture of serenity. Having achieved so much at such a young age, Babar always comes across as grounded in his interviews, not ashamed to admit he is constantly learning by watching the best. The humility of the Pakistan skipper was on full display when he sent a supportive message to Virat Kohli wishing he returned to form quickly. He is your arch-rival Babar, aren’t you supposed to hate him? This is big 2022 old man, modern cricket is all about respect.

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The aesthetics of Babar’s game help as well, be it the resplendent cover drives or the sizzling square cuts. All in all, he is the perfect poster boy for Pakistan cricket for he definitely represents everything Pakistan. Finely dashed with all the right ingredients much like the biryani there, the recipe of happiness. Batting beautiful enough to provide comfort on hectic days, like a steaming cup of tea on a cold evening. Every innings of his woven ever-so intricately, each shot a stitch in a grand knock, as if borne from the beauty of Phulkari from his native Punjab.

If batting was Urdu then Babr Azam would be its Mirza Ghalib, his strokes flowing from the bat like poetry in motion. Somehow the Lahori manages to do all of it with a quiet smile on his face, reflecting Pakistan’s renowned hospitality in the game of cricket.

Enough of abstract talk now, time to talk about concrete facts and remind you of Babar Azam’s stunning merits. He recently became the fast Asian cricketer ever to race to 10,000 international runs across formats, breaking the record set by the titan that is Virat Kohli. The fledgling batsman presently averages 59.22 in ODIs, the highest for a Paksitani by far and over 10 points clear of Zaheer Abbas. The number also puts him first in the all-time list when considering batsmen to have played at least 50 innings.

Azam is the number one ranked batter in the world in both ODIs and T20Is, while being number three in Tests. Given his form, it seems like an inevitability that he will follow in Kohli’s footsteps to become the top-ranked batter across all formats and the undisputed best batsman in the world. Then there are the more quirky records as well of course, like scoring the most hundreds in an ODI series and having the most fifties in consecutive innings (9)  in cricket history.

Babar has already produced some of the greatest performances in Pakistan’s cricketing folklore and etched his name in the history books, all while being just 27 years old. Few can forget his 158 against England in the third ODI in 2021, having come on the back of a duck and 18 in the first two games. The way in which he combined with Mohammad Rizwan to decimate India in the World T20 2021 opener is a thing of legend and among Pakistan’s greatest ever victories. 

However, the latest of Azam’s 25 international centuries has to go down as his best international knock to date. Coming to bat against the red ball on a Galle trick where the spinners were weaving webs Spider-Man would be proud of, Babar saw his team collapse to 112-8 and face impending defeat. Maybe he made Sri Lanka feel the same way, which is where the tables turned in his favour. Azam stuck in and played with the control of a Formula 1 driver in Monaco, dancing around the track with utmost precision and calculation. Taking the tail under his wings, the number four built his way to an astounding 119 taking 244 deliveries in the process, bringing Pakistan from the jaws of defeat to a famous victory. The phoenix of Pakistan had risen, and it had the imprints of Babar Azam all over it.

All in all, Babar is the first batsman in a long, long time to threaten the so-called ‘fab four’ with such consistency. More importantly, he is the first Pakistan batsman in forever to make the world sit up and take notice. Most importantly, the youngster is the finest brand ambassador of Pakistan cricket for years and a true symbol of hope for them in times of despair. Babar Azam has evolved into an emotion for the fans and his legacy is already cemented when his peak is just beginning. It is borderline scary to imagine the potential of Azam’s achievements and the only question that remains is whether he can surpass the greats of this generation to go down as the undisputed top dog.

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