Virat Kohli has achieved his highest ODI career rating points to extend his lead in the ICC rankings for batsmen to a whopping 65 points.
In the updated rankings released by the ICC on Tuesday, the India skipper achieved a rating of 909 points, which puts him seventh in the all-time list in ODI cricket history.
909 is the highest rating ever achieved by an Indian batsman in one-dayers, and it comes on the back of an extraordinary series with the bat for Kohli in India’s 5-1 thrashing of South Africa. It also puts Kohli above West Indies great Brian Lara who has a highest rating of 908 points.
Only two subcontinent batsmen, Zaheer Abbas (931) and Javed Miandad (910) of Pakistan, have achieved a higher rating than the Indian batting maestro.
The 29-year-old scored a staggering 558 runs in the six matches on the back of three centuries, at an eye-popping average of 186.
— ICC (@ICC) February 20, 2018
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Rashid has become the youngest bowler to occupy the top spot in the ICC rankings, a truly remarkable feat for the Afghan youngster whose rise in international cricket has been something to behold.
Afghanistan spin sensation @rashidkhan_19 has become the youngest man to top the @MRFWorldwide ICC Player Rankings, now the number one ODI bowler alongside @Jaspritbumrah93! https://t.co/UWbtY8rwTUpic.twitter.com/bUPHYyd22x
— ICC (@ICC) February 20, 2018
The leg-spinner picked up 16 wickets in the recently concluded ODI series against Zimbabwe. He is the youngest player in men’s cricket to achieve the top of the rankings in any format, making his achievement all the more noteworthy.
India are perched at the top of the team rankings with 122 points, ahead of South Africa who have 117.
Bhuvneshwar’s 5-24 was the first ever five-for by any Indian pacer in the format. It also means that the 28-year-old now has a five-wicket haul in all three international formats.
Only five other bowlers in history have achieved this feat before the India man. We take a look at who they are.
AJANTHA MENDIS (SRI LANKA)
The 32-year-old spinner might be a forgotten man now but there was a time when he was bamboozling batsmen left, right and center when he burst onto the international stage as a youngster.
The mystery finger-spinner has nine five-wicket hauls in all formats. Four of them have come in Tests, three in ODIs and two in T20Is.
Mendis’ meteoric rise however, was mirrored by an equally quick downfall as batsmen around the world came to terms with his variations.
TIM SOUTHEE (NEW ZEALAND)
The Blackcaps pacer has been around for some time now in international cricket. A bowler who relies very much on conventional swing, Southee has done well to pick up a five-wicket haul six times in Test cricket and two times in ODIs.
His sole five-for in the 20-over format in 2010 against Pakistan at Auckland where he finished with figures of 5-18.
Southee is the only New Zealand bowler to feature on the list.
UMAR GUL (PAKISTAN)
He has done it four times in Test crickets and twice each in ODIs and T20Is. The 33-year-old was a brilliant exponent of reverse swing and famous for his stinging yorkers at the death. It is no wonder therefore, that he has been so successful in limited-overs cricket.
LASITH MALINGA (SRI LANKA)
The second Sri Lanka bowler to feature on the list, Malinga has always been a phenomenal performer in limited-overs cricket with his slingy unorthodox action, pin-point yorkers and cleverly disguised slower-balls.
The 34-year-old has picked up seven five-wicket hauls in ODI cricket, three in Tests and once in T20Is. His sole five-for in T20s came in the ICC World Twenty20 clash against England at Pallekele where he returned with figures of 5-31.
IMRAN TAHIR (SOUTH AFRICA)
The 38-year-old Proteas veteran is the oldest name to feature on the list. The Pakistan-born leg-spinner has thrived in limited-overs cricket in recent years, especially T20s, with his subtle variations.
Tahir has picked up two five-wicket hauls each in Tests and ODIs. His sole five-for in the 20-over format came in New Zealand last year where he finished with figures of 5-24 in South Africa’s 78-run win at Auckland.
Trevor Bayliss should be applauded for being brave and bold enough to maintain his opinion that Twenty20 internationals should be axed, but that’s not to say he is right. From an England perspective, it’s pretty worrying that the nation’s coach, who gets paid to coach T20, and is more of a specialist in limited-overs cricket, wants to disregard a format internationally that is the future now and may be the only future in a few years’ time. It’s here to not only stay, but dominate the game whether you like it or not.
Sometimes it needs someone in authority to just say what they think but his views differ from vice-captain Jos Buttler, with the England wicket-keeper batsman recently saying that he could see cricket becoming a ‘one-format game’, i.e, just T20s, sooner rather than later.
The timing of Bayliss and an under-performing Buttler’s comments have looked a little out of place after a dismal Trans-Tasman tri-series campaign for England, meaning the Three Lions have lost four of their past six series in the format – and have generally struggled since making the final of the 2016 World Cup in India. In contrast, England have caught up with and overtaken most in their wake but have fallen off the pace under Bayliss in the other two disciplines. That’s probably not surprising given his views and coaching background as a one-day specialist. Perhaps England need a change in direction before he calls time on his stint after the 2019 Ashes series on home soil. Indeed, his comments as well as the man himself give off a soporific vibe.
There is a lot of cricket being played all the time, end of. It’s not been overkill in 20-over internationals but certainly in the format as a whole with leagues the world-over cramming the calendar to boiling point. Bayliss, a man who has previously coached the likes of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League, is happy to just see the format based around domestic leagues.
To do so would only leave the international game behind the curve, and nor would it prevent the many more specialists we are seeing now from earning their crust – if they couldn’t find it with their country, they’d certainly find it elsewhere. The argument that many international matches are pointless or not competitive doesn’t hold up, either. While there are plenty of riches to be made throughout the game now for a select few, cricket is hard graft and toil where careers are on the line for the majority of players when they stride to the crease.
The workload issue has been a long-term problem in cricket, not just T20s, but it is very difficult to change given the onus on making money. As we saw at Eden Park last Friday, watching an uneven contest between bat and ball isn’t actually that fun. Indeed, that day, the novelty of hitting sixes went up in smoke and to be honest, watching on, it wasn’t a fair contest between bat and ball. But 35,000 people were still there to see it in a game where attendances have been dwindling. That’s a tick in the box and off the back of that there is cash to be made through commercial and huge TV-focused revenue drives. The IPL being a case in point.
Many maintain a love affair with Tests and even when the ICC Test Championship is implemented in a couple of years to make for more trophy-laden series, the problem is it probably won’t be enough to swing the massive tide of momentum that serves in the favour of T20s. It may still thrive in England but soon, apart from India and Australia, there may not be many other nations to fill up the opposition tours. It was brilliant to see the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland granted Test status last year, and to see what it meant, but it all seems a bit too late. The need to recognise what is happening and lean towards it is important to keep the great game alive.
In a world where gifs, Instagram stories and how many likes you receive on social media seems to define how popular you are, you can apply it to T20 cricket, with the current and future generation feeding into a fast-food diet of popcorn cricket.
Put it this way, if you’re a talented batter coming through the ranks now, and wish to earn a living and support your family, would you be blocking and playing conservative cricket? No, you’d be doing everything in your power to become a world-beating T20 star. Ultimately, the international stage remains the grandest of them all.