Pakistan reach top of ODI rankings with Afghanistan series sweep
August 26, 2023 06:55 PM
Pakistan Saturday received a further boost just weeks out from the start of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup with Babar Azam's in-form side claiming the No.1 ODI team ranking with a 3-0 series sweep pf Afghanistan.
Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by 59 runs in the last one-dayer in Colombo to claim the top ODI rankings.
Chasing a target of 269 runs, Afghanistan, who are the hosts of the series, were all out for 209 runs in 48.4 overs.
Mujeebur Rehman played an entertaining knock of 64 runs off just 37 balls to save his side which could be a huge defeat. He hit five sixes and as many boundaries in his innings. Shahidullah (37) and Riaz Hasan (34) were the other main run-getters for the hosts.
For the visitors, Shadab Khan took three wickets for 42 runs while Muhammad Nawaz grabbed 2-45, Faheem Ashraf 2-43, Shaeen Afridi 2-31 and Aga Salman 1-3.
Earlier, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam hit solid half centuries against some tight Afghanistan bowling to take Pakistan to 268-8 in the third and final one-day international.
Rizwan scored 79-ball 67 with six boundaries and a six while Azam knocked four boundaries and a six in his 86-ball innings of 60 to anchor Pakistan's innings after they won the toss and batted.
Pakistan have already won the series with wins in the first match by 142 runs and one wicket in the second -- both played in Hambantota.
The Rizwan-Azam pair added 110 runs for the third wicket to steady the innings after pacer Gulbadin Naib removed openers Fakhar Zaman (27) and Imam-ul-Haq (13) to hit Pakistan at the start.
Pakistan stuttered in the middle overs with four wickets lost in the space of just 27 runs, including Azam's wicket who scored his 28th half century.
Saud Shakeel was run out for nine and Shadab Khan for just three as Pakistan were left struggling at 189-6.
Agha Salman (38 not out) and Mohammad Nawaz (30) added 61 for the seventh wicket as Pakistan added 80 in the last ten overs.
Salman hit four boundaries and a six in his 31-ball quickfire knock.
Naib was the pick of Afghanistan bowlers with 2-36.
The top ranking is a a huge boost for Pakistan on the eve of this year's 50-over showcase, with Babar's side among the favourites to claim a second World Cup title in India this year.
Pakistan's sole success at the World Cup came back in 1992 in Australia and the Asian nation could enter this year's edition with the No.1 ODI team ranking if they can continue on their recent upward curve.
In 10 ODI matches this year Pakistan have lost just three - all against New Zealand - and their form with both bat and ball during the ongoing Afghanistan series has them on the cusp of claiming the top ranking from Australia.
Pakistan also boast some of the highest ranked ODI players, with Babar leading the way in the ODI Batter rankings and teammates Imam-ul-Haq (third) and Fakhar Zaman (fifth) not far behind.
Following the completion of the series against Afghanistan, Pakistan will take part in the 2023 Asia Cup and their first match in that six-team tournament comes against Nepal in Multan on August 30.
They then take on New Zealand and Australia in official warm-up fixtures for the World Cup, with their first clash at this year’s tournament coming against the Netherlands in Hyderabad on October 6.