Babar Azam, the captain of Pakistan, finished 2022 with the most runs scored in an international cricket match. The 28-year-old batsman earned 2598 runs in the calendar year despite having a lackluster performance at the 2022 T20 World Cup. Although Babar did well as a batter, his year as captain was not as successful. After Pakistan’s three-match Test series loss at home to England, things for him became sour. Babar suffered a significant setback when numerous cricket analysts and fans questioned his leadership.
Babar’s declaration on Day 5 of the just-finished first Test against New Zealand drew additional criticism as Pakistan just avoided a defeat. With only about 15 overs remaining on Day 5 of the Karachi Test against New Zealand, Pakistan declared, giving the visitors a target of 138. The Blackcaps responded appropriately with their bats in retaliation. The game, however, had to be abandoned early because of poor lighting in the eighth over. Many analysts criticized Babar for declaring the game at such a pivotal moment, but Shahid Afridi, the interim chief selector and former captain of Pakistan, defended the batter and gave him the assurance of the selection committee’s complete backing.
“Babar Azam is the backbone of the Pakistan team and we will back him. His decision about the declaration yesterday (Friday) was a good one. As a selection committee, we want to act as a shoulder to Babar. I liked the way he addressed the media and stated that the team is just focused on the game and not bothered about the things going on outside the ground. So, this is what we want from Babar and our entire committee is there to back him,” Afridi told the media. On the fifth and final day of the game, Ish Sodhi took 6 for 86 and nearly gave New Zealand the win in the first two sessions, but Pakistan fought back and declared their second innings at 311 for 8.
The chase concluded in failing light at 61 for 1, with Tom Latham unbeaten on 35 and Devon Conway on 18. This set New Zealand a challenging mark of 138 to win in 15 overs. One wicket only fell for three, and that was Michael Bracewell. The player of the match was Sodhi, who outperformed his previous record of 4 for 60 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo four years prior. Babar Azam scored 161 runs for Pakistan in the first innings, and Imam-ul-Haq added 96 runs in the second. Kane Williamson, who reached his sixth Test double century, was the highlight for New Zealand.