Babar Azam has had a forgettable Test series in Australia, but he struck form in the warm-up game prior to the upcoming five-match One-Day International series on Tuesday (January 10), setting him up to break the record of becoming the fastest to 1,000 runs in the format.
Azam was one of the big failures in Pakistan’s 3-0 series defeat to Australia, with 68 runs from six innings. However, he struck 98 off 113 balls with 12 boundaries against a Cricket Australia XI at Allan Border Field in Brisbane as the Pakistanis won by 196 runs.
And now, if Azam gets 114 runs inside the first two innings he bats in during the ODIs against Australia, he will get to the milestone in 20 innings (or 19 if he needs only one knock), beating Viv Richards’s achievement of reaching the mark in 21 hits, set 37 years ago and matched only by Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Quinton de Kock since.
“I’m aware of the record, but I’m putting emphasis on the performances of my team,” said Azam to cricket.com.au after the tour game on Tuesday. “For Pakistan to do well in the ODIs, that’s my first priority. The Test series was difficult and I didn’t get an opportunity to score a lot of runs, so this practice match was good for me to spend time in the middle. I’m grateful that I got an opportunity today to do better.”
The breakthrough for Azam, always considered a promising youngster in Pakistan, was the series against West Indies at ‘home’ in the United Arab Emirates last October, when he scored 120, 123 and 117 in the three matches.
His 360 runs in the series was also a record for a three-game exchange, and matched de Kock’s record for hitting three centuries in a three-match series – against India at home in December 2013.