Babar Azam named ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year for the 2nd straight year

Published January 26, 2023
Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between Namibia and Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Nov 2, 2021. — AFP
Babar Azam plays a shot during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between Namibia and Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Nov 2, 2021. — AFP

Pakistan cricket captain Babar Azam on Thursday was picked as Men’s ODI Player of the Year for the second time in a row by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his “match-winning knocks [and] spell-binding stroke-play”.

The ICC noted that Azam last year amassed 679 runs from just nine ODIs at an average of 84.87, with three centuries and five half-centuries.

Moreover, he maintained his lead as the number-one ranked batter on ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings — a title that he has held on to since July 2021.

The ICC praised the skipper for his role as the Pakistan captain as well, “leading his team with aplomb and to just one loss throughout the year”, which was against Australia in Lahore.

Cricket statistician Mazher Arshad remarked on Azam’s accomplishment: “Before him, no one from Pakistan had received this award. Truly an ODI great.”

Memorable performance

Recognising the outstanding player for his noteworthy achievements, the ICC highlighted his score of 114 against Australia in Lahore as the most memorable performance.

Pakistan had chased a massive total of 349 for the loss of just four wickets and with six deliveries still to spare.

The cricket council described the match as a “must-win encounter for Pakistan” after it had lost the series opener to the “always-difficult Australian side”.

After openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq had achieved a 118-run stand, the Green Shirts needed 231 from 187 balls and that is when Azam came to the rescue.

He brought up his hundred from just 73 balls — his fastest ever in ODI cricket — and stuck around until the 45th over with the victory target in sight.

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