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Who Was the Best? A Comparison of Most Popular Pakistan Captains Across Formats

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Pakistan cricket has introduced so many great players over the years, many of whom have not only excelled as players but also assumed leadership roles as captains for the team. These captains, though they may have come and gone, have left an indelible mark in the cricketing world with their remarkable achievements.

Recently, Babar Azam made the decision to step down from the captaincy across all formats. During his tenure, Babar achieved several records that will be fondly remembered by fans. Notably, he became the first captain to elevate Pakistan to the No. 1 ODI ranking.

Babar Azam’s prowess wasn’t confined to captaincy; his batting skills also showcased world-class performance. He held the No. 1 ODI ranking as a batsman for almost three years. However, a disappointing performance in the World Cup 2023 compelled him to relinquish the captaincy.

While Babar Azam has made significant contributions, it’s essential to recognize the legacy of other great Pakistan captains from the past. Their dedication and accomplishments have played a crucial role in shaping the success of the Pakistan cricket team.

List of Records for Pakistan Captains in Tests

Player Span Matches Won  Lost Draw N/R Win Percentage
Misbah-ul-Haq 2010-2017 56 26 19 11 0 46.42
Imran Khan 1982-1992 48 14 8 26 0 29.16
Babar Azam 2021-2023 20 10 6 4 0 50.00
Sarfraz Ahmed 2017-2019 13 4 8 1 0 30.75
Inzamam-ul-Haq 2001-2007 31 11 11 8 0 35.48

Imran Khan’s Achievements as Test Captain

Imran Khan led the team to their first Test win on English soil in 28 years at Lord’s in their second match. In his first year as captain, he achieved the peak of his legacy as both a fast bowler and an all-rounder. During the 1981–1982 season, he recorded his best Test bowling performance, taking 8 wickets for 58 runs against Sri Lanka in Lahore.

In the three-Test series against England in 1982, Khan topped both the bowling and batting averages, taking 21 wickets and averaging 56 with the bat.

In 1987, Imran Khan led Pakistan to its first-ever Test series win in India, followed by their first series victory in England in the same year. Throughout the 1980s, his team managed three creditable draws against the West Indies.

Misbah-ul-Haq’s Achievements as Test Captain

Misbah led the team to a 0-0 draw against the Proteas and then secured a 1-0 series victory on Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand in early 2011. He faced criticism for his slow innings in the World Cup semi-final loss to India, but he chose not to respond to the criticism.

After Shahid Afridi was removed as the ODI skipper in 2012, Misbah became the captain of the Pakistan team. Under his captaincy, the team achieved a clean sweep (3-0) against the then No.1 Test side, England.

In 2014, he equaled the record for the fastest test century of that time, scoring one off 56 deliveries against Australia in Abu Dhabi. In July 2016, Misbah scored a century against England at Lord’s, becoming the oldest cricketer in 82 years to achieve a test century.

At 42 years and 2 months, he also became the oldest captain ever to score a test century. To celebrate the landmark, Misbah saluted his team members and performed ten push-ups.

Some of these captains also boast a commendable record in ODI cricket, having achieved numerous milestones and made significant contributions to the Pakistan team. Here is the list of records for Pakistan captains in One Day Internationals:

List of Records for Pakistan Captains in ODIs

Player Span Matches Won Lost Tied N/R Win Percentage
Imran Khan 1982-1992 139 75 59 1 4 53.95
Wasim Akram 1993-2000 109 66 41 2 0 60.55
Sarfraz Ahamed 2015-2019 50 28 20 2 56.00
Misbah-ul-Haq 2008-2015 87 45 39 2 1 51.72
Babar Azam 2020-2023 43 26 15 1 1 60.46

Imran Khan led the Pakistan cricket team during the 1992 World Cup, which remains the only ODI World Cup victory for Pakistan. They secured the title by defeating England in a memorable final, etching the triumph permanently in the hearts of Pakistani cricket fans.

Wasim Akram, another remarkable captain, led the team to the 1999 World Cup final, although they ultimately lost to Australia. Nevertheless, their victory against Australia in the league fixture of the tournament is still remembered fondly.

Sarfraz Ahmed created historic memories by leading the Pakistan team to a triumphant moment in the Champions Trophy 2017, where they defeated arch-rivals India in the final. These moments marked the beginning of a new era and continue to be etched in the minds of cricket enthusiasts.

Misbah-ul-Haq stands out as a captain who achieved a significant milestone by winning the ODI bilateral series against South Africa in 2013 on their home soil. This victory marked a historic moment, making him the first Asian captain to lead a team to an ODI series win in South Africa.

Babar Azam recently opted to step down from the captaincy in all formats of Pakistan cricket. Under his leadership, he achieved several milestones that will be fondly remembered by fans, notably becoming the first captain to guide Pakistan to the number one position in the ODI rankings.

In T20 cricket, there have been several captains of the Pakistan team who guided their team to historic triumphs, setting numerous records in the format.  Here is the list of records for Pakistan captains in T20 Internationals:

List of Records for Pakistan Captains in T20Is

Player Span Matches Won Lost Tied N/R Win Percentage
Younis Khan 2007-2009 8 5 3 0 0 62.50
Mohammad Hafeez 2012-2014 29 17 11 1 0 58.62
Sarfraz Ahmed 2016-2019 37 29 8 0 0 78.37
Shoaib Malik 2007-2019 20 13 6 1 0 65.00
Babar Azam 2019-2023 71 42 23 0 6 59.15

Younis Khan is the only T20 captain who led Pakistan to a Championship title victory in the T20 World Cup 2009, beating Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s. This is the only T20 trophy that Pakistan has won so far.

Before the T20 World Cup 2009, Shoaib Malik led Pakistan in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Although Shoaib Malik led Pakistan to the final, they were defeated by arch-rivals India in the championship match. Despite this, Shoaib Malik, as a captain, contributed significantly to the Pakistan team.

Babar Azam, serving as captain in 71 T20 International matches, has amassed 2195 runs with an average of 38 and a striking rate of 129. In the course of his captaincy, he notched up three centuries (against South Africa, New Zealand, and England) and recorded 20 half-centuries. Babar Azam currently holds the distinction of having the most number of fifties and hundreds as captain for the Pakistani T20I side. Notably, he stands as the sole T20I captain to achieve a century in a T20 game. Under his captaincy, the team achieved a landmark win against India in the T20 World Cup 2021, making him the first captain to lead the team to a World Cup fixture win over their arch rivals.

Sarfraz Ahmed was named the T20I captain for Pakistan in 2016, and he steered the team to remarkable success, securing victory in 11 consecutive T20I series. His outstanding leadership not only elevated Pakistan’s standing in T20 cricket but also propelled them to the pinnacle of the ICC rankings. Importantly, Sarfraz boasts a higher winning percentage as captain compared to Babar Azam.

Mohammad Hafeez, known as ‘the professor,’ led Pakistan in all cricket formats, captaining 29 T20I games with a record of 17 wins and 11 losses. His T20 captaincy included two World Cups, reaching the semis in 2012 but failing to qualify in 2014, leading to the end of his captaincy. Hafeez was named the Man of the Series in a 2012 T20I series against India, which ended in a draw.

There are some Pakistani players who have the best overall records as captains over the past, having played 100 or more matches as a captain. Here is the list for all three formats for the Pakistani captains.

Player Span Matches Won Lost Tied Draw N/R Win Percentage
Imran Khan 1982-1992 187 89 67 1 26 4 47.59
Misbah-ul-Haq 2008-2017 151 77 60 2 11 1 50.99
Babar Azam 2019-2023 134 78 44 1 4 7 58.20
Wasim Akram 1993-200 134 78 49 2 5 0 58.20
Inzamam-ul-Haq 2001-2007 119 63 44 0 9 3 52.94
Sarfraz Ahmed 2015-2019 100 61 36 0 1 2 61.00

Imran Khan served as the captain in numerous matches for the Pakistan team, accumulating numerous achievements that established him as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s history. However, his win percentage is relatively lower compared to other captains because Imran used to opt out of series against weaker opponents to manage his workload. Surprisingly, Sarfraz has the highest win percentage among captains despite a poor run in the ODI and Test formats, mostly because of Pakistan’s success in the T20 format.

  • Most of the captains mentioned above except Azam played against formidable sides. Azam made a career playing mostly against depleted sides like Zimbabwe, WI, SL, Ireland etc

  • Babar Azam best captain and ramiz raja best PCB chairman. Under their pair Pakistan played ICC t20 WC 2021 and 2022 semi final and final and final of Asia cup 2022. Defeated India for the first time in ICC tournaments. Please bring ramiz and Babar Azam back! 💔

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