DUBAI: There were match-winning knocks, spell-binding stroke-play and memorable moments from a personal perspective and his team in 2022 as Pakistan skipper Babar Azam 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, then what he produced during 2022 was even better as the ultra-consistent right-hander maintained his lead as the No 1 ranked batter on the ICC Men's ODI Player Rankings.
It's a title that Babar has held firmly onto since July 2021 and in its current form, has no intention of letting go easily. 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, a further five half-centuries and only really failed with the bat on one occasion.
And it wasn't just from an individual level that Babar thrived, with the Pakistan captain also leading his team with aplomb and to just one loss throughout the year.
Pakistan's sole loss in 50-over cricket last year came against Australia in Lahore and on stats alone, it was evident that Babar was an easy selection 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 the Asian side 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-ul-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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