Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

How Babar Azam is forcing his way into elite club of batsmen - in three graphs

Pakistan batsman is turning into one of the most reliable in the game

Babar Azam is the best young batsman in the game, we all know that. Such has been the rise of the Pakistan batsman, he now has a legitimate case of demanding a seat at the ‘Fab Four’ table.

Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root are still the best four batsmen in the game but Azam, 25, is breathing down the neck of at least one on that list and threatening to make if a ‘Fab Five’ club.

At the beginning of his career, Azam was mainly a white-ball specialist who was at his best in the shortest format. But over the last season, he has raised his game in all three formats and that is reflected in his healthy batting averages – 45.12 in Tests, 54.17 in ODIs and 50.72 in T20s – and rankings – fifth in Tests, third in ODIs and first in T20s.

So how good is Azam and how much has he risen? We take a closer look through three charts.

Test average

All batsmen, no matter how good, are gauged by performances in Test cricket. Azam, for most of 2017-18, saw his Test average slip to below 30 when the best in the business were pushing theirs above 50 and even 60.

The 25-year-old has had a prolific three months, scoring four centuries and two fifties to take his average above 45. While he is still well behind Smith (62.84) Kohli (54.97), Azam is making up for lost time and should soon find himself clubbed together with the established names.

Average across formats

What about averages across formats? Here too Azam compares favourably. He scores at more than 50 in both white-ball formats and is working overtime to take his Test average past that mark. Should he do it, he will become only the second player to do so in three formats, after Kohli.

While it must be noted that the established names have been around for a decade and Azam is just into his fifth year in international cricket, becoming a 50-average batsman is no mean feat.

Runs in last 12 months

If we look at just the last year, Azam’s run scoring has outpaced some of the bigger names. With 1801 runs from 32 international innings, the Pakistan batsman has been more prolific than Williamson and Root, while keeping up with Smith.

The stats might not be entirely comparable as the types of formats and number of innings differ, Azam’s furious pace of scoring stands out.

Updated: February 16, 2020 08:09 AM

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