KARACHI: Pakistan captain Babar Azam has had an illustrious career since he made his debut for Pakistan in a One-day International against Zimbabwe in Lahore almost eight years ago. The prolific batter has transformed himself into one of the most successful batters in recent history. He has been the number-one batter on the ICC ODI Rankings since 2nd April 2022 and currently holds the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year and ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year award, the last being his second in as many years. When Pakistan and New Zealand will walk out for their final meeting of the five-match ODI series at the National Bank Stadium on Sunday (today) afternoon, Babar, the fastest batter to 5,000 runs, will complete the century of matches in the format. Ahead of the landmark match, the 28-year-old exquisite stroke-maker, spoke to the PCB Digital at the team hotel in Karachi on his ODI journey. Over the years, Babar has become synonymous to discipline, solid technique, consistency and level-headedness, and the right-handed batter revealed this is because of the sheer hard work he has put in since his first exposure to official cricket at the under-15 regional level. Recalling the moment when he was first called up for the national side, Babar said: “It 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. I was not selected for the national academy for top performers after my first season as an 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.” The road to becoming an international cricketer was full of sacrifices. The Pakistan captain shared how at the poignant moments in his life, he was away from his family and how their support helped him reach the apex level. Babar said it was his three consecutive centuries in the United Arab Emirates against the West Indies that turned around his career and gave him the confidence. For a player who is already regarded as one of the best the country has produced and who has earned tones of accolades over his already legendary career, what is the next goal that he has set himself? “Being the captain of a World Cup winning side would be sweet,” he said.