ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Babar Azam was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, or star of excellence, by the government of Pakistan on Thursday for his services in the field of cricket, making him the youngest person ever to get the award.
The Sitara-e-Imtiaz is the third-highest honor and civilian award in the state of Pakistan, usually given out each year at a ceremony held on March 23, a day celebrated annually to commemorate the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 which called for the creation of an independent sovereign state for the Muslims of India.
“Immense honor to have received Sitara-e-Imtiaz in the presence of my mother and father,” Azam, 28, wrote in an Instagram post. “This award is for my parents, fans, and the people of Pakistan.”
“Congratulations on being conferred with civil awards,” the Pakistan Cricket Board wrote in a congratulatory post for Azam on Twitter.
Azam debuted as an international player on May 31, 2015. In November 2020, Pakistan named him their new test captain, putting the batsman in charge of teams across all formats.
In April 2021, while playing against South Africa in the first one-day international (ODI), Babar scored his 13th ODI century in his 76th innings, making him the quickest player to reach this mark. At the end of the series, he broke Indian batter Virat Kohli’s record with 865 points to become the world’s number-one batter, retaining the position for 1,258 days.
On April 14, 2021, Azam scored his maiden T20I century (122), in a winning cause against South Africa at the Centurion Stadium. On April 25, 2021, in the third T20I against Zimbabwe, he became the fastest batsman in terms of innings to score 2,000 runs in T20Is, doing so in his 52nd innings.
Azam has won several accolades during his career, including the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year 2021 and 2022, and the ICC Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy) 2022.
Pakistani cricketer Bismah Maroof, the ex-captain of the national women’s team, was also awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, or the medal of excellence, for her services in the field of cricket on Thursday.
The government also recognized blind Pakistani cricketer Masood Jan and bestowed him with the Pride of Performance award. The title recognizes people with notable achievements in the fields of art, science, literature, sports, and nursing.