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Friday, March 1, 2024

Top ODI ranking within sight for Pakistan ahead of World Cup

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Pakistan could receive a further boost just weeks out from the start of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup with Babar Azam’s in-form side just one win away from claiming the No.1 ODI team ranking.

Pakistan clinched an exciting one-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Hambantota on Thursday and in the process clinched an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series.

That improved Pakistan’s ODI team rating just short of first-placed Australia and the Asian side could claim the premier position as the No.1 ranked one-day side as early as Saturday with a victory over Afghanistan in the third and final match of their series, an ICC report on Friday said.

That would prove 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.

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