(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 1:27 PM
Last updated: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 9:29 PM
Match-winning knocks, spell-binding stroke-play and memorable moments marked 2022 for Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who claimed the ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Year Award for second consecutive year.
If you thought the Pakistan skipper had a year to remember in ODI cricket in 2021, what he produced during 2022 was even better, as the ultra-consistent right-hander maintained his lead as the highest ranked batter on the ICC Men's ODI Player Rankings.
This is a title to which Babar has held firmly since July 2021.
It might be surprising to note that Babar only played nine ODI matches in 2022, but the 28-year-old made them count as he smashed three centuries and five half-centuries.
It was not just from an individual level that Babar thrived; the Pakistan captain also led his team with aplomb, facing just one loss throughout the year.
Pakistan's sole loss in 50-over cricket last year came against Australia in Lahore. Based on stats alone, it was evident that Babar was an easy candidate to win the coveted ICC Men's ODI Player of the Year award in 2022.
Babar Azam put up one incredible ODI performance after another in 2022, but none more memorable or as good as the outstanding 114 against Australia in Lahore at the end of March.
It was a must-win encounter for Pakistan after they fell to a loss in the series opener against an always-difficult Australian side, and Babar delivered when his country needed him most as Pakistan chased down a massive total of 349 for the loss of just four wickets and with six deliveries to spare.
Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam
Haq laid the foundation with a 118-run stand to get the run chase going before Babar put on a masterclass in chasing a total.
Walking out to bat when his team needed 231 from 187 balls, Babar almost took his side home with an exceptional display of shot-making.
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.
The rest of the batters finished the job as Pakistan recorded their highest-ever successful chase in ODIs and it was no surprise that their inspirational skipper was deservedly named Player of the Match.
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