Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s match-saving and record-breaking 196 against Australia in the final innings of the second Test in Karachi was lauded as among the best fourth innings batting displays this century by Wisden.
Azam’s 10-hour stay on the pitch ranked third among the 10 best match-saving fourth-innings efforts of the 21st century, released on Thursday. The report said the Pakistan captain lived up to his reputation when his team needed him the most and “piled misery” on the Australian team to raise hopes of Pakistan’s win.
“The hosts had been bowled out for 148 in the first innings and were under immense pressure in the second innings after being set a target of 506. All of this didn’t seem to matter to Babar, who played an all-time great knock,” the report added.
Azam had come in to bat when the team was reeling at 21 for 2. He had formed an incredible 228-run partnership for the third wicket with Abdullah Shafique but did not flinch even when the young’un departed a few short of his century.
The skipper was closing in on his first-ever double century when he fell prey to Nathan Lyon. In all, he had scored 196 off 425 balls, hit 21 bounda-ries and a solitary six.
It was his best and most memorable knock in Pakistan colours — certainly in Tests and maybe even in all formats. Azam had broken the following three records with his performance:
Highest score by a Pakistani batter in fourth in-nings Highest score by a captain in the fourth in-nings.
“It was a team effort, as others chipped in with useful contributions too,” the Pakistan captain had said after the match. “We tried to be positive and play our shots. The team needed this knock, so I tried to bat for as long as I could.”
His score was so impressive that even foreign media figures — including those from neighbouring India — couldn’t help but wax lyrical about him.The following are the top 10 fourth-innings batting per-formances listed by Wisden:
1. Australia’s Ricky Ponting – 156 (275) vs England at Manchester, 2005
2. South Africa’s Faf du Plessis – 110* (376) vs Australia at Adelaide, 2012
3. Pakistan’s Babar Azam – 196 (425) vs Aus-tralia at Karachi, 2022
4. India’s Rishabh Pant – 97 (118) vs Australia at Sydney, 2021
5. South Africa’s Hashim Amla – 25 (159) vs Sri Lanka at Colombo, 2014
6. England’s Matt Prior – 110 (182*) vs New Zealand at Auckland, 2013
7. Australia’s Usman Khawaja – 141 (302) vs Pakistan at Dubai, 2018
8. England’s Ian Bell – 78 (213) vs South Af-rica at Cape Town, 2010
9. South Africa’s Faf du Plessis – 134 (309) vs India at Johannesburg, 2013
10. West Indies’ Dwayne Smith – 105* (105) vs South Africa at Cape Town, 2005.