Babar Azam, 28, becomes the youngest person to ever receive the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in Pakistan.

Image Credit: ICC Cricket

Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s third-highest civilian honour. It was bestowed upon him at a ceremony in Lahore on Pakistan Day, the country’s national holiday. Babar, 28, becomes the youngest to collect the award, defeating Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed. Sarfaraz received the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in Karachi in 2018 at the age of 31.

Bismah Maroof, a former Pakistan women’s captain, has been given the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, the fourth-highest honour. Masood Jan, a former Pakistani blind cricket, got the Pride of Performance Award.

Last year, on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, the Pakistan government announced that Babar would get the honour for his achievements in cricket. Babar Azam joins a long list of former cricketers who have received this honour, including Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, and Misbah-ul-Haq.

Babar Azam has become one of the finest cricketers of his generation and one of Pakistan’s most incredible batters since making his international debut in 2015. His career ODI average of 59.41 is the highest among players with at least 2000 runs. His 17 ODI hundreds already rank him second on Pakistan’s all-time list. He was a member of the Champions Trophy-winning team in 2017. After a tough start, he has established himself as an elite Test batter.

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Babar azam 3696 runs in the format include nine hundred and a 48.63 average. He is also Pakistan’s greatest T20I run-scorer, with 3355 runs at an average of 41.41 and a strike rate of 127.80, and has scored two of Pakistan’s four T20I hundreds. In 2020, he was selected captain of the ODI and T20I teams before taking over as Test captain in 2021. He was appointed ICC Men’s Cricketer of 2022 and the captain of that year’s One-Day International team.

Maroof is the second female cricketer awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, following Sana Mir. She described herself as “humbled and honoured” and dedicated the prize to her father, who “stood by me through thick and thin.” Maroof, 31, took over as Pakistan captain in 2013 and held it until 2020 before taking a hiatus from cricket to give birth to her baby. She took over as captain after her return.

She guided the team to victory in the recently ended T20 World Cup before standing down earlier this month.
Babar referred to the prize as “an enormous honour,” dedicating it to “his parents, fans, and the people of Pakistan.” He was congratulated by a slew of former and current cricketers, including Kamran Akmal, Ajmal, Shahnawaz Dahani, Saim Ayub, and Mohammad Haris.

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