Pakistan duo take aim for SKY as battle for top ranking in the T20Is

Babar Azam moved up to 3rd position after a century against New Zealand

The competition for first place in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Batter Rankings keeps getting hotter as Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam have the chance to cut the gap on Suryakumar Yadav, the rising star from India, who now holds the top spot.

By the time Pakistan’s five-game T20I series against New Zealand gets underway on Saturday, Babar will have another chance to close the gap on Suryakumar, according to the ICC’s latest rankings, which show him moving up to third.

Both Babar Azam and Rizwan missed Pakistan’s most recent T20I series against Afghanistan and will be eager to score freely against the Black Caps, who are coming off a close 2-1 series victory over Sri Lanka at home.

Suryakumar now leads the T20I batter ratings with 906 rating points, but while the India star is playing in the IPL, second-placed Rizwan (811) and third-placed Babar (755) could advance.

Ironically, Babar climbed one spot to third in the most recent rankings as a result of Devon Conway’s absence from New Zealand’s series against Sri Lanka. Conway is a Kiwi batter who plays for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.

In the recently concluded T20I series, a number of New Zealand and Sri Lankan stars who did participate were recognized for their contributions. Young spinner Maheesh Theekshana, 22, was the greatest draw as he reached a career-high rating and tied for fifth place among bowlers.

The off-spinner Theekshana won the first game of the series for Sri Lanka thanks to his performance in the Super Over, and he followed up that effort in the final two games by opening the bowling in a pair of impressive performances.

Due to costly play by teammate Wanindu Hasaranga during the series, he fell two spots to fourth on the list of top T20I bowlers, with Australia’s Josh Hazlewood moving up one spot to third and Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi moving up one spot to second.

As a result, Afghanistan currently holds the top two bowler positions in the T20I rankings, with Rashid Khan (a spinner) leading Farooqi (a fast-rising fast-bowler) in a closely contested ongoing battle for first place.

On the most recent T20I rankings for batters, New Zealand right-hander Tim Seifert (up from outside the top 100 to 36th) and Sri Lanka dasher Kusal Mendis (up 11 spots to equal 25th) were the other notable winners. There was some movement on the Test rankings after Bangladesh’s victory over Ireland in Mirpur.

After scores of 126 and 51*, senior right-hander Mushfiqur Rahim rose five spots to position 17 on the list of Test batters. Meanwhile, spin combo Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan were recognized on the list of bowlers.

As a consequence of his vital five-wicket haul in the first innings, Taijul moved three slots to tie for 20th, while the Bangladesh captain moved up two spots to tie for 26th thanks to his 2/26 performance as the opening bowler in the second innings.

Shadab Khan is now the top-ranked Pakistani bowler in the ICC Men’s T20I Bowler Rankings after Haris Rauf propelled him there with ten wickets in three T20Is.

In the current T20I series against New Zealand, Rauf picked up back-to-back four-wicket hauls, earning Player of the Match honors in the opening game.

The Pakistani fast bowler finished last week just behind Shadab Khan, who was ranked 12th in the T20I bowling rankings, and just ahead of Shaheen Afridi. With ten wickets throughout the first three T20Is, Rauf has climbed five spots in the rankings to take up the 11th position.

By the end of the five-match series, he may have reached a career-high rating of 657 points, which would put him in the top 10 of all time.

While the others around them lost ground, Ish Sodhi (620) and Shaheen (624) also advanced by four and two positions, respectively.