Top ranked T20 team Pakistan saw their grip on the No1 position loosen on Wednesday as the ICC updated their rankings.
Pakistan started the T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe on 131 points, looking to consolidate their position at the top of the pile. Australia, India and England all had a decent chance of taking the number one position provided Pakistan slipped in Zimbabwe.
Against Australia, Sarfraz Ahmed’s team suffered a heavy nine-wicket defeat with nearly 10 overs to spare in the T20 tri-series in Harare. The Aussies, meanwhile, have coasted to two thumping wins.
That meant Pakistan, still number one, have climbed down to 129 points in the rankings updated on Wednesday and Australia are up to second position on 126 points from 122 previously.
India, meanwhile, have gained two points and are third on 125 points after their thumping win over England in the first T20 in Manchester.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s men are in scorching form currently in the T20 format and their win over the hosts on Sunday was their eighth on the bounce.
With the game against Australia coming less than 24 hours after the win over Zimbabwe, a couple of changes could be on the cards for Pakistan as they seek to keep everyone fresh.
The men in green opted to rest pace spearhead Mohammad Amir in the tri-series opener and he could be in contention to play on Monday against the formidable Aussies. As such, Sarfraz will have plenty of good selection headaches after the excellent showing of his bowlers in the 74-run win. The likes of Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Khan, Mohammad Hafeez and Hasan Ali picked up two wickets each in the comprehensive win with Shadab Khan chipping in with one.
While the option to rest Amir further will be a tempting one for Sarfraz, his experience and leadership could be vital against Australia.
In the batting department, Hussain Talat had a poor outing in the tournament opener and that continued a poor run for the young batsman in recent times after his struggles to get past good starts in the series against Scotland.
His poor form could open the doors for fellow 22-year-old Sahibzada Farhan. Farhan impressed for Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United in the most recent edition and has impressed with his performances in the domestic circuit. Also in contention for the role is the more experienced Haris Sohail.
With no fresh injury concerns to worry about, expect Sarfraz to persist with the winning combination with the return of Amir being the most likely change.
PAKISTAN LIKELY XI
Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat, Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is on a high at the moment. Pakistan’s endeavour to consolidate its position as the No1 T20 team in the world got off to a great start in the opening match of the T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe with the men in green winning by 74 runs against the hosts.
A full-strength Pakistan team ticked all the boxes as Pakistan defended their total of 182-4 with ease on Sunday.
The win was special for Sarfraz as the wicketkeeper batsman also became the most successful T20 captain in Pakistan’s history.
Sarfraz now has 20 wins under his belt, one more than Afridi. What’s interesting is Afridi’s 19 wins came from 43 matches for his country while Sarfraz’s 20 have come from just 23 games.
Sarfraz has the best success rate as captain in T20 cricket by far. His win percentage of nearly 87 is miles ahead of any T20 International captain in history (among those who have led in at least 20 matches).
Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai is the only T20 captain who comes even close to Sarfraz’s record – 32 wins from 41 matches for a success rate of 78 per cent.