Commentator Simon Doull wasn’t best pleased with Babar Azam‘s deceleration leading up to his first century in the PSL, questioning whether the Peshawar Zalmi skipper slowed down for a personal milestone ahead of the team’s benefit.

Babar brought up his maiden PSL century against Quetta Gladiators, leading the way with a 65-ball 115 before he was run out in the 20th over. He reached his fifty with a six, taking 32 balls to reach the milestone, and 28 more to convert that into his eighth T20 century.

However, the last 20 runs leading up to his ton didn’t come by as fluently: he was on 80 off 44 at one point but took 16 more deliveries to get to the three-figure mark. His opening partner, Saim Ayub, departed when Babar was on 84, and although Rovman Powell came in and put up a quick cameo, Babar appeared to hold back his scoring rate a bit.

When Babar was on 99 off 58 and defended the first ball of a Naseem Shah over for a dot, Doull questioned whether Babar was only looking for a century, “rather than putting the team first”.

“The last little while, that’s all that has been happening rather than looking for boundaries still, when you’ve got so much firepower to come [Mohammad Haris, Haseebullah Khan and all-rounder Aamer Jamal were to follow].

“Hundreds are great, stats are brilliant, but it still must be team first.”

Eventually, Zalmi ended on 240-2, the fourth-highest total in the history of PSL.

While Babar has been one of Pakistan’s finest T20 players and is currently ranked third in the ICC T20I batting rankings, his strike rate in the format has often been questioned. Earlier in the tournament, Babar humorously snapped back at a journalist who queried him on the general criticism surrounding his strike rate, after Babar had scored a 58-ball 75 in Zalmi’s defeat.

Last week, Imam-ul-Haq revealed that Babar himself acknowledges he needs to work on dominating bowlers better and closing games. Imam added that to reach the levels of Virat Kohli, his Pakistan teammate “needs to work on his strike rate”.

Babar is currently the third-highest run-getter in PSL 2023 – his strike rate [140.00], however, is the lowest among the top-ten run-getters this season.

Doull hasn’t been afraid to criticise Pakistan’s big players this series, suggesting Mohammad Rizwan retire out when he was struggling in an innings earlier in the tournament. Rizwan went on to make a hundred, but Doull stood by his criticism later on.