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Stats Analysis

Stats - Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam set new benchmarks in T20 batting

A look at the duo's superb year, when they added 1380 runs together at an average of 57.50 in the format

Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam - the record-breaking pair  •  PCB

Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam - the record-breaking pair  •  PCB

Rizwan and Babar top the run-scoring charts
Two new milestones have been set in the 20-over format in 2021. Both were achieved by Mohammad Rizwan. He finished the year with an aggregate of 2036 runs in T20s to become the first batter with 2000 T20 runs in a calendar year. In the T20Is alone, he scored 1326 runs - the first batter to breach the 1000-run mark in a calendar year in T20Is. His 13 T20I scores of fifty-plus runs this year is also a record.
Babar Azam occupied second place in both lists as he ended the year with 939 T20I runs and another 840 runs across the Pakistan Super League and National T20 Cup. Chris Gayle's 1665 runs in 2015 was the previous most T20 runs for a batter in a calendar year. Babar came close to breaking that record in 2019 when he amassed 1607 runs. Babar, however, has made 20 fifty-plus scores in 2021, the most fifty-plus T20 scores in a calendar year.
Rizwan finally finds success in T20s
The fascinating fact about Rizwan's tally of 2036 T20 runs in 2021 is that it is higher than his career runs till 2020 in the format - 2029 runs - while playing more than 100 matches. The move to bat up the order in 2020 turned the tables for Rizwan in T20s, a format that never brought him much success earlier. His success in the New Zealand tour as a T20I opener last year could be credited to Babar's injury, which had ruled him out of the series, leaving a spot at the top vacant.
Rizwan was the Player of the Tournament in PSL this year for leading Multan Sultans to their maiden PSL title while scoring 500 runs. He had four fifties in 12 innings in that tournament, where he got out under 20 only twice. This turnaround came after playing just two matches in 2020 and seven games across the previous two editions for Karachi Kings. He had just one fifty - which he hit in 2016 - in the first five PSL editions.
Rizwan defines consistency
Despite having fewer fifties than his national team captain, Rizwan ended up with a higher run tally this year due to his consistency in getting starts. He reached the 30-run mark in 30 of the 45 T20 innings and was dismissed for a single-digit score only six times. Only two players have scored 30-plus scores at a higher frequency in a calendar year in the T20 format - Virat Kohli in 2016 and David Warner in 2019.
Kohli scored at an incredible consistency in 2016, where he averaged 89.66 and was the Player of the Series in three of the five T20 events played. Warner was at his very best in 2019, being the highest run-scorer in IPL that year even while not being available for the entire tournament.
Rizwan started the year with nine successive 40-plus scores across T20Is and PSL. He also had seven consecutive innings of 30-plus runs in T20Is, a streak that ended in the T20 World Cup. It remains the longest streak of 30-plus scores for any player in T20Is. In T20Is, he had 20 scores of 30-plus runs in the 26 innings he batted.
Rizwan and Babar make it look easy
Only twice did Rizwan and Babar bat together in T20Is before 2021. This year, they added 1380 runs in 25 stands at an average of 57.50 - the first pair with 1000 partnership runs in a calendar year not only in T20Is but also in all T20s. Only five other batting pairs in the history of men's T20Is have more career partnership runs than what these two have added in 2021 alone.
Until the start of 2021, there was only one pair with more career partnership runs - Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan with 1743 runs, having batted 52 times together. Kevin O'Brien and Paul Stirling, with 756 runs in 2019, previously held the record for most T20I partnership runs in a calendar year. In T20s, Kohli and AB de Villiers hold the record, for adding 939 runs in just 13 innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016.
Rizwan and Babar now hold the record for the most century partnerships by any pair in T20Is - six stands - out of which four are 150-plus stands, including the unbeaten 152 in Dubai, which helped seal their maiden World Cup win over India. Rohit and Dhawan are only the other pair in men's T20Is with multiple 150-plus stands. The Pakistan duo also equalled the T20 record for most 150-plus partnerships, held by Kohli and de Villiers.

Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo