Babar Azam finishes South Africa ODIs as No 1 ranked batsman

Babar optimistic about Pakistan chances against India in T20 World Cup

Sohail Ali

LAHORE, Apr 14 (APP):Pakistan cricket captain Babar Azam has ended the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League matches against South Africa as the number-one ranked ODI batsman in the world.

The latest rankings that have been updated after the third ODI were released on Wednesday afternoon.

Babar had moved ahead of India’s Virat Kohli in number-one position after his 103 in the first match of the series. But, he slipped to second (five points behind Kohli) after scoring 31 in the second match.

However, after an innings of 94 in the series finale that earned him the player of the match award, Babar has once again leapfrogged the India captain who has slipped from the No.1 ranking for the first time since replacing AB de Villiers in October 2017.

Babar had started the three-match ODI series 20 points behind Kohli and finished eight points ahead of the India batsman, earning 28 points in the series in which he aggregated 228 runs.

Babar’s No1 ODI ranking supplements his No 6 Test and No3 T20I rankings, which is a hallmark of a fine batsman across all three formats. At present, Kohli is the only other batsman to feature inside the top-six across all formats.

Babar is the fourth Pakistan batsman after PCB Hall of Famers Zaheer Abbas and Javed Miandad, and Mohammad Yousuf to peak to the top in the ODI batting table.

Zaheer Abbas had topped the ODI batting rankings after his 103 not out against New Zealand during the 1983 World Cup fixture at Trent Bridge, while Javed Miandad had achieved No 1 ranking after scoring 103 against Sri Lanka during the 1987 World Cup match in Hyderabad.

Mohammad Yousuf was the last Pakistan batsman to move to the top following his 60 against South Africa in October 2003 in Rawalpindi.

Reacting to the news, Babar Azam said: “I feel privileged and honoured to have joined the company of stalwarts like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf, who will always be the shining stars of Pakistan cricket.

“This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time, like Sir Vivian Richards from January 1984 to October 1988 and Virat Kohli for 1,258 days.

“I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman’s calibre, reputation and skills. I understand to achieve this objective, I will not only have to perform consistently, but more importantly, against the top sides.

“I am looking forward to this challenge and remain confident I will be able to accomplish this target with the support of my team-mates and coaching staff.

“But at this stage, I will savour the moment as it has come almost 18 months after I was first appointed the white-ball captain and that too at the back of my performances that helped Pakistan become the first Asian side to win two ODI series in South Africa.”

Career-high rankings for Fakhar and Shaheen Meanwhile, Fakhar Zaman has returned to the top-10 following a stellar series against South Africa in which he won the player of the series award, while Shaheen Shah Afridi is just outside the top-10 in the latest rankings.

Fakhar had scores of eight, 193 and 101, which have helped the left-hander jump from 19th to seventh – his career-best ranking to date. His previous best ranking was eighth, which he had achieved following his 138 against England at Southampton in May 2019.

The opener had moved seven places to 12th after his swashbuckling 193 in the second match, while he was rewarded with a jump of five more places following his 101 in the series-decider.

Shaheen has achieved a career-high ranking of fifth. He took three for 58 in the final match of the series, which has helped him to jump four places to 11th in the bowling table. His previous highest-ranking was 14th, which he had achieved following his two for 61 in the first ODI against South Africa.

While Shaheen has moved in an upward direction, Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf have slipped in the latest rankings, which were updated following the third ODI. Hasan has dropped six places to 54th, while Faheem is now 57th after sliding three places. However, Muhammad Nawaz has vaulted 29 places to 96th after his figures of three for 34 at Centurion –third ODI.

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