Mohammad Babar Azam
October 15, 1994, Lahore, Punjab
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
A right-hand, top-order batsman known for his discipline and level-headed attitude, Babar Azam laid claim to a long-term spot in Pakistan's batting line-up with a strong performance in 2016, making three consecutive ODI hundreds against West Indies in the UAE, and a 90 in his third Test, in Hamilton. He was 22 years old at the time.
Born in Lahore and a first cousin to the Akmal brothers, Azam made his way up through age-group cricket. His journey began at an under-15 world championship in 2008 and he played two under-19 World Cups in 2010 and 2012, where he was Pakistan's top run-scorer.
"We didn't have to guide him, he was on his own, but we were supportive all the way," Kamran Akmal said. Azam had the distinction of top scoring regularly in age-group domestic cricket before he was called up to the national side in 2015 and made his debut during the home ODI series against Zimbabwe - a rarity because Azam's rise was during Pakistan's isolation as an international venue due to security concerns.
His hat-trick of ODI hundreds against West Indies led to a Test debut in the Test series that followed, and Azam had to opportunity to cement his spot as the careers of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq wound down.
He would grasp that opportunity, and then some. Over the years that followed, Azam became, far and away, Pakistan's best batsman, the most famous cricketer in the country, and among the best batsmen in the world. He is, even with so much of his career still ahead of him, one of Pakistan's best ever batsmen.
He was the second fastest player to 2000 ODI runs and the second quickest to 1000 T20I runs. He already has more ODI hundreds than all but two Pakistan batsman, and a World Cup hundred in a crunch game against New Zealand will go down as one of the great individual Pakistan ODI performances. While the first couple of years of Test cricket didn't bring the instantaneous success of white-ball cricket, steady improvements year on year have seen him rank among the best Test batsmen since the start of 2018, too.
Several Pakistan players of this generation have seen regressions after a few years in the side, but Azam, mercifully for Pakistan, seems immune to even that malaise. The increased responsibility Pakistan have dumped upon his shoulders - he was appointed T20I and ODI captain in 2019 before eventually captaining the Test side since 2021 - appears to have had little impact on his personal form for now.
While he doesn't quite have a reputation as one of the deeper thinkers of the game, his captaincy shows embryonic signs of modern progressive thinking, and Azam is very much learning on the job. There appears to be no attempt to ease any of the pressure placed upon relatively young shoulders, but Azam appears not to be feeling the strain for now.
Batting & Fielding