tThe performance of openers has always played a vital role in all formats of cricket, especially in limited overs. If the openers provide a strong, bold start, the middle order can chase or set a big total.
Pakistan cricket team is fortunate to have Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Both have been some of the most successful openers in Twenty20 Internationals in recent months.
With their consistent and consistent performances, they are breaking T20I records one after another: most ever century partnerships, most runs as partner batsmen in a calendar year, most T20I runs in a calendar year, most scores of 50 or more in T20Is as captain and most runs after the first 60 runs.
During the final triple series opener, Ridwan with his innings of 78 off 50 balls added more T20 records to his tally. He has taken the total number of T20 runs in the 2022 calendar year after 1,500 runs. Last year, he scored 2036 T20 runs.
He is only the third batsman in the world to have scored 1,500 or more T20 runs in a calendar year twice. The other two are Chris Gayle and Babbar Azam.
The wicket-taker also overtook England’s Joss Butler in the list of players who have scored the most runs as the designated wicket-keeper in T20Is.
This year on 22 September at the National Stadium in Karachi, Babar and Rizwan against England made the highest ever chase partnership in T20Is by scoring 203 runs. It was the highest successful run chase in T20 history without losing a wicket.
Babar and Rizwan Khamis have over 150 wingers in T20Is. No other pair has even one for Pakistan. Their five hauls of over 150 runs are also the most of any pair in T20 cricket.
Babar and Rizwan also became the first opening pair to score more than 1,000 runs in a calendar year. They have scored 1,041 runs in 2021 in 17 partnerships.
Rizwan was rewarded for his consistent performance as he regained the top spot in the T20I batsmen’s ranking. He leads the ICC T20I batsmen rankings with 853 runs while Babar is third with 808.
Ridwan is the first player to score ten fifties in T20Is in a calendar year (2021). He has three figures in all formats for Pakistan.
Rizwan also surpassed India’s captain Virat Kohli and Babar when he scored the most points last year with 1,651 points. Kohli scored 1614 while Azam accumulated 1607 in a year. Radwan was only four runs behind Gayle, who scored 1,665 runs in 2015.
Moreover, Rizwan also surpassed Kohli’s highest T20I career average (scoring at least 1000 runs). Rizwan currently has an average of 52.66. This is more than all 73 batsmen who have scored at least 1,000 runs in a T20I. His 13 T20I scores of fifty-plus runs this year is also a record.
The wicket-keeper in his 72 T20I matches scored 2426 runs, at an average of 52.73 at a strike rate of 128.22. He scored one hundred and twenty-two fifties.
Babar scored 3,216 runs in 86 T20I innings at a strike rate of 129.78 at an average of 44.05, including two centuries and 29 half-centuries.
Those who criticize Babar and Rizwan for their strike rates must realize that they are careful with their power play as both are technically sound batsmen but middle system fail to find success in almost all matches.
This was proven in the final of the Asia Cup: when Babar and Rizwan both fell cheaply, Pakistan’s batting collapsed to 147 in pursuit of 171. It was a mediocre batting performance with only two of their runs scoring in double figures.
Since the last World Cup, Babar said, “We have envisioned the conditions in Australia and planned accordingly. This whole team is our strength and I hope this team can get us good results.”
note: All stats are updated before the Tri-Series Final in New Zealand.