New Delhi: Pakistan captain Babar Azam scored a century for the third time in Karachi, his ninth Test, lifting the hosts to 317/5 at the end of day one of the series opener against New Zealand on Monday. In addition to him, a returning Sarfaraz Ahmed performed admirably in his 50th Test appearance and first at home, scoring 86 runs off 153 deliveries.

Ahmed, playing in place of Mohammad Rizwan for the first time in nearly four years, and Babar shared a massive 196-run partnership for the fifth wicket that lasted 56.3 overs to put Pakistan in a strong position and demoralize New Zealand.

It hasn’t been a good time for Pakistan cricket or for captain Babar Azam. The team lost to England in a humiliating whitewash at home, which led to Ramiz Raja’s removal as PCB chairman and the selection panel led by Muhammad Wasim. Additionally, Babar’s leadership was the subject of discussion. However, on Day 1 of the first Test against New Zealand in Karachi, he stunned the critics with a stunning century.

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On Monday, Pakistan got off to a terrible start when they went three down for just 48 runs in 15 overs. Saud Shakeel tried to fight back, but New Zealand captain Tim Southee quickly broke up the 62-run stand with Babar.

Pakistan needed a partnership urgently, but most importantly, their skipper needed to step in. Babar not only had the support of former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was making his first Test appearance in almost four years after last playing against South Africa in 2019, but he also bravely battled the New Zealand attack to score his ninth Test century.

Babar broke Ricky Ponting’s world record for most fifty-plus scores in a calendar year in international cricket with the ton. Babar’s 25th fifty-plus score in Karachi surpassed Ponting’s feat of 24 such scores in 2005, which stood for 17 long years. Eight tons and 17 fifties are included in the total. In addition, with those eight centuries, he surpassed West Indies legend Brian Lara, Steve Smith of Australia, Mahela Jayawardene, and Graeme Smith to become the captain with the most international tons in a calendar year. Babar’s eight-century feat in 2022 ranks third on the all-time list.

With the thump, Babar is likewise the highest Test run getter in 2022. In addition, he surpassed Mohammad Yousuf, the team’s current batting coach and former cricketer, with his total of 2542 runs across the three formats this year, making him the Pakistani batter with the most runs.

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