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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Babar Azam crowned ICC Men’s Player of the Month

 Pakistan´s captain Babar Azam plays a shot during the Asia Cup 2023 super four one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Pakistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on September 11, 2023. — AFP

DUBAI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Tuesday was declared the ICC Men’s Player of the Month for the third time, winning the award for the month of August 2023. 

Holding the top spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, Babar continued to impress with his exceptional performance last month and has been crowned this award. 

Babar — who was thrilled to accept the honour — beat teammate Shadab Khan and West Indies hard-hitter Nicholas Pooran to win the award. 

“I am delighted to be named ICC Player of the Month for August 2023,” Babar said.

“The past month has been extraordinary for my team as we have put some terrific performances. With the Asia Cup coming to Pakistan after such a long time, it was great to play in front of the passionate and cricket-loving crowds of Multan and Lahore,” he said adding that his second ODI score of 150-plus in Multan doubled the joy.

“I am looking forward to making the most of the form as we head into an exciting phase of cricket with the backend of the Asia Cup nearing and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup around the corner. My team and I are eager to bring joy and happiness to the millions of Pakistan fans.”

The star batter had an exceptional month in the Asian sub-continent, excelling in the 50-over format.

In the first ODI against Afghanistan in a bilateral series in Sri Lanka, Babar faced a rare setback, failing to score any runs.

However, he quickly bounced back, displaying his resilience with two consecutive fifties. The highlight came during the second ODI, where the Pakistan captain, alongside Imam-ul-Haq, forged a crucial 118-run partnership, setting the stage for an exciting last-over showdown.

Babar contributed 53 runs in the run-chase, well-supported by Imam’s 91 runs and the lower-order batters. Pakistan clinched a nail-biting victory with a single ball and a wicket to spare.

He followed it up with yet another crucial 60, aiding his team in reaching a commendable total of 268/8 in the final ODI. Pakistan’s bowlers excelled, securing a comfortable 59-run victory to achieve a clean sweep with a 3-0 series win.

Babar’s exceptional form extended beyond the series, as he made a stellar start in the ongoing Asia Cup. In the tournament opener against Nepal, he delivered a stunning performance, scoring 151 runs off 131 balls.

During this inning, the Pakistan skipper achieved a historic milestone, becoming the fastest player in the game’s history to reach 19 ODI centuries.

This century marked his 31st century across all formats for Pakistan, placing him on par with legends Javed Miandad and Saeed Anwar. He now stands just behind Younis Khan (41), Mohammad Yousuf (39), and Inzamam-ul-Haq (35) in terms of centuries for Pakistan.

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