The Pakistan cricket team on Friday reached a new high as it became the No. 1 ODI side in International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings. Babar Azam scored a superb century on Friday to help lift Pakistan to the top of the ODI rankings after a thumping 102-run victory in the fourth match against New Zealand in Karachi. Azam stroked a 117-ball 107 and also became the fastest batsman to reach 5,000 ODI runs, as his team made 334-6 in their 50 overs.
His 18th ODI hundred took him past the mark in his 97th innings in the format, beating former South Africa batsman Hashim Amla‘s previous record of 101 innings. New Zealand were bowled out for 232 in 43.4 overs with the skipper Tom Latham (60), Mark Chapman (46) Daryl Mitchell (34) offering some resistance.
— ICC (@ICC) May 5, 2023
leg-spinner Osama Mir led Pakistan’s bowling charge with a career-best 4-43 while pacers Mohammad Wasim (3-40) and Haris Rauf (2-37) also impressed The win gave Pakistan a 4-0 lead in the five-match series and took them to number one for the first time since the International Cricket Council officially recognized the rankings in 2005. Pakistan’s previous highest ODI ranking was third which they attained in January 2018 and again in June 2022.
After the latest rankings were published, former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif had a subtle message for the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Asia Cricket Council (ACC). “Perfect timing to achieve No1. ODI rankings. This, supported by high rankings of Babar, Fakhar, Imam, Shaheen and Shadab, will make the ACC, ICC and their sponsors think hard before making any decisions. Pakistan is a force and they have demonstrated this again. Well done lads. @ICC @TheRealPCBMedia #BabarAzam,” he wrote on Twitter.
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of speculation regarding the final venue of the Asia Cup, which is slated to be held in Pakistan. After ACC head and BCCI secretary Jay Shah said that India won’t be traveling to Pakistan for the continental event, there have been many theories regarding how the tournament will take place. From hybrid model where India’s matches might be played at a neutral venue to the tournament getting postponed, the reports have been varying. Some reports even suggested that Pakistan might reconsider its decision to travel to India for the 2023 World Cup, if the Asia Cup is not held in their country, however there has been no official confirmation regarding the same. In the midst of this. Latif’s message has arrived.
Perfect timing to achieve No.1. ODI rankings. This, supported by high rankings of Babar, Fakhar, Imam, Shaheen and Shadab, will make the ACC, ICC and their sponsors think hard before making any decisions. Pakistan is a force and they have demonstrated this again.
Well done lads…. pic.twitter.com/sgjSnkUT58
– Rashid Latif | (@iRashidLatif68) May 5, 2023
Talking about the game, Azam starred with his 30th ton in all international cricket after New Zealand won the toss and put the hosts in to bat at National Stadium. The 28-year-old beat Amla’s record when he reached 19.
Azam, who has been the number one ODI batsman for the last two years, hit 10 boundaries before he was caught at deep mid-wicket off debutant Ben Lister in the 48th over Azam is the 14th Pakistani to score 5,000 or more runs in ODI cricket with former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq top of the list with 11,701.
He is also the fastest to 18 ODI hundreds, beating Amla’s record of 102 innings.
With AFP inputs
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