Pakistan skipper Babar Azam will wear a special jersey to mark his 100th one-day international (ODI) match when he comes out to bat in the fifth and final game against New Zealand on Sunday.
The shirt, which was gifted to the 28-year-old star player by his teammates, has the number 100 written on its back.
The prolific right-hander, who has been breaking records recently, made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe in Lahore almost eight years ago.
“It [call up for the national side] was a different feeling altogether. There was some talk about me being selected, but when I got the call, there was a lot of excitement. I was sitting with my family and it made them happy.
“When I entered the Gaddafi Stadium as a Pakistan player, I reminisced my journey of how I used to come here as a ball picker and how I had come here before Inzamam-ul-Haq’s final Test match, which was against South Africa, as a net bowler,” Babar told Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Digital in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
“I was not selected for the national academy for top performers after my first season as a U15 regional player as my performances were not up to the mark. That is when I started to set goals for myself and my first goal was to become a part of it and for that, I worked hard day and night. I used to leave my house for training at 11am and stay in the ground till sunset,” he added.
Babar is one of the most successful batters in the world at the moment and is the number-one batter on the ICC ODI rankings since April 2, 2022.
The Pakistan skipper also shared the sacrifices he made to reach the apex level of international cricket.
“I was very close to my paternal uncle and when he passed away, I was on a tour with Pakistan U19 in South Africa. He always used to take care of my bats and repair them for me. I lost my paternal grandmother when I was playing a match in Islamabad. I could not make it in time for the final rituals, as I could not find a bus to Lahore,” he said.
“My journey has had its fair share of sacrifices. But, I am glad that I have a family that supports me. My mother bought me my first-ever cricket bat and gear, and I used that bat for good two to three years. My dad has been a great influence in my life. He tells me to be never complacent and that keeps me hungry and focused. My brothers always lend me support in tough times,” he added.