Pakistan’s special talent Babar Azam celebrated cricket’s return to home soil in an emphatic manner as he smashed a brilliant hundred during the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Monday. Continuing his glorious run of form in the limited-overs format, Babar treated his home fans with elegant stroke-play during his 115-run knock at the National Stadium in Karachi. He became the third-fastest batsman to score 11 ODI hundreds. Babar took 71 innings to reach the landmark, bettering Virat Kohli (82) in the list.
South African legend Hashim Amla (64 innings) leads the tally to reach fastest to 11 one-day tons. The 24-year-old Babar reached the three-figure mark in the 44th over of Pakistan innings when he smashed a Lahiru Kumara delivery through backward point for a boundary. This is his first international ton at home. During the course of his innings, Babar also became the first Pakistan player this year to surpass 1,000 ODI runs in a calendar year. In the process, the right-hander broke the record held by former captain Javed Miandad and became the fastest Pakistan batsman to cross 1,000 runs in a calendar year.
In 1987, Miandad achieved the feat in 21 innings while Babar took just 19. Former Pakistan great Mohammad Yousuf and present coach Misbah-ul-Haq share the third spot in the list, having taken 23 innings to reach the feat.
Apart from Babar, other cricketers who have crossed 1,000 runs in 2019 are Virat Kohli (1,288), Rohit Sharma (1,232), Aaron Finch (1,141) and Usman Khawaja (1,085).
Earlier, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first against Sri Lanka in the second ODI. Pakistan got a chance to host an international match after a gap of 10 years since the terrorist attack. Teams have shown their reluctance to visit the Asian country post the attacks on Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore (2009).
The first ODI of the three-match series in Karachi was washed out without the toss. The third and final ODI will be played in Karachi on Wednesday. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will also play a three-match T20I series in Lahore next month.