After dethroning Indian skipper Virat Kohli as the number 1 ranked ODI batsman in the world, Pakistan's Babar Azam has set his sights on becoming the leading batsman in Test cricket, terming it his 'ultimate goal'.
The 26-year-old became only the fourth Pakistani cricketer to top the ODI charts after his 228 runs in the three-match ODI series against South Africa helped him reach a personal best of 865 rating points in the ICC's rankings.
In an official statement released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB0, Babar Azam expressed his delight at achieving the milestone. He also stated his ambition of becoming the best batsman in cricket's longest format. Babar was quoted as saying:
“I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman’s calibre, reputation and skills. I understand to achieve this objective, I will not only have to perform consistently, but more importantly, against the top sides."
Having made his ODI debut in 2015, Babar Azam has quickly risen to become the lynchpin of Pakistan's batting order. Batting in the crucial number three spot for his team, the elegant right-hander has amassed 3808 runs in 80 ODIs at an average of 56.84.
Babar Azam's achievement is all the more special as Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf are the only other players from his country to have topped the ODI batting charts. Calling the celebrated trio 'shining stars', Babar said:
"I feel privileged and honoured to have joined the company of stalwarts like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf, who will always be the shining stars of Pakistan cricket."
Want to hold on to the No.1 ODI ranking for a long time, like Sir Vivian Richards and Virat Kohli: Babar Azam
India captain Virat Kohli is arguably one of the best ODI players of all time and had been the No.1 ranked ODI batsman for more than three years (1258 days).
The record for the most consecutive days spent at the top of the ODI ladder is held by West Indian great Sir Vivian Richards, who held on to the position for 1748 days.
Having recently been appointed captain of Pakistan in all formats, Babar's match-winning knock of 103 in the first ODI against South Africa and another impactful innings of 94 in the final ODI helped him topple Kohli and take an eight-point lead.
Expressing his desire to emulate Virat and Sir Viv Richards, Babar Azam concluded that he will work hard to retain the No.1 ODI rank for a long time.
“This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time, like Sir Vivian Richards from January 1984 to October 1988 and Virat Kohli for 1,258 days", finished Babar Azam.
Babar Azam currently occupies sixth spot in the ICC's Test rankings with 760 rating points. The list is topped by New Zealand's Kane Williamson (919 points). Virat Kohli is a spot ahead of the Pakistan skipper in the longest format with 814 points.