Jan 24, 2022: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has named Pakistan captain Babar Azam as ODI Cricketer of the Year for his outstanding performance in the calendar year 2021.
Apart from Azam, the ICC also nominated Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh, Jenny Malan of South Africa and Paul Sterling of Ireland for the award. This is the third consecutive award for Babar as the ICC had earlier named him captain of the ODI team of the year and T20 team of the year.
In his acceptance speech, the captain thanked the fans, family, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), ICC, and his team for their support and encouragement. Babar Azam said that he is sure that his best innings of the year was against England in Edgbaston which was also the best innings of his career.
While Babar Azam played only 6 ODIs in 2021, he was the second highest run scorer with 228 runs and was the best player of the match in both the victories of Pakistan in the 2-1 series against South Africa. Babar, the architect of Pakistan’s 274-run chase in the first ODI, scored a century and a 94-run stand off 82 balls in the last ODI where the visitors batted first and scored 320 runs.
He scored 177 runs in three matches when England clean swept Pakistan. Azam’s best performance this year came in a losing cause in the final ODI against England.
He was initially cautious in his innings, completing his half-century off 72 balls. He made up for that by getting the next 50 off just 32 balls – his second ODI century of the year. As the milestone came to an end, he performed spectacularly in the death overs and almost batted till the end of the innings, getting out at 158 in the last over, his highest ODI score ever.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, James Vance and Lewis Gregory stole the show with a brilliant partnership of 129 for the sixth wicket when England chased the overall target with two overs to spare.
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