Mohammad Rizwan’s performances for Pakistan in the Asia Cup, which have helped guide his team to Sunday’s final against Sri Lanka, have been recognised by the ICC, and he now tops their ICC T20I rankings for batting. Ironically, the man he has deposed is his own captain, Babar Azam, who has struggled for form whilst he has been in the Middle East.
Babar’s reign at the top had lasted for more than three years – 1,155 days to be exact – and he should not be too downhearted. He remains second in the list, and he continues to top the ODI rankings by a considerable margin.
Rizwan is the third Pakistani to top these rankings, with Misbah-ul-Haq managing it back in 2008.
Rizwan’s rapid ascent
The 30-year-old has not always been so highly rated. In fact, less than two years ago he was ranked 306th in the world, but, since the start of 2020, he has more T20I runs than any other player in world cricket (1,674 at an average of 69.75) and has also scored the most fifties.
In the Asia Cup so far he managed an unbeaten 78 against the minnows Hong Kong, and then scores of 43 and 71 against India. And all that combined with his wicket-keeping duties as well.
There are already some who believe that he is the finest T20I keeper-batter ever – although fans of MS Dhoni will choose to disagree. And then there is Jos Buttler of England, the MVP in this year’s Indian T20 league, who has hit 93 T20I sixes, 18 more than his next nearest rival.
Who else is ranked?
After the two Pakistanis, third in the current standings is Aiden Markram of South Africa, followed by the only Indian to make the top ten, Suryakumar Yadav (his T20I captain Rohit Sharma is the next highest ranked in 14th place).
However, Virat Kohli remains third when it comes to all-time T20I rankings, with only two men ahead of him: Aiden Markram of South Africa, and the English batter, Dawid Malan. KL Rahul appears in eighth place in this list, despite his recent indifferent performances for India.
It may be a concern to India that they have no bowlers ranked in the ICC top ten currently, although this might have been different had Jasprit Bumrah been able to stay fit for any sustained period of time. At the moment, there is nobody able to touch Australia’s Josh Hazlewood, whose rating is 76 points higher than his nearest challenger, Tabraiz Shamsi of South Africa.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is India’s best-ranked bowler in 11th place, and, despite having two bad games in the Asia Cup against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in terms of runs conceded, he will be a crucial part of their World Cup squad in Australia next month.
Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan is currently the top-ranked all-rounder, with Hardik Pandya fourth.
India remain the top-ranked T20I team, although critics might argue this has not been reflected in their Asia Cup performances, and there are concerns about the temperament of Rohit Sharma’s side and their ability to cope with the pressure of big match games in tournaments.
That might actually be a good thing, as it could help dampen expectations among their fans ahead of the World Cup in Australia.
Pakistan are just behind them and will be further boosted if they succeed in winning the Asia Cup for the first time the next time that the rankings are published. They presently have the same rating as England and are separated just on the number of points.
In fact, there is very little to separate the top five or six teams in the world currently, suggesting that there are no clear and obvious favourites when the World Cup starts, although the defending champions Australia will have the benefit of playing in home conditions.
Pakistan, though, will consider themselves to have a good chance, especially if Rizwan can continue his current level of performance. And, if Babar can rediscover his form as well, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in the tournament.
India meanwhile, have the potential to win it again, but they need to decide what their best side is soon – and stick to it!
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