Pakistan lose top ODI spot in just 48 hours

Pakistan´s Shaheen Shah Afridi (C) celebrates the dismissal of New Zealand´s Cole McConchie (not pictured) during the fifth and final one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the National Stadium in Karachi on May 7, 2023. —AFP

Pakistan’s reign at the top of the ICC Men’s ODI Rankings proved short-lived as they lost the No. 1 spot just 48 hours after claiming it for the first time in history. 

The Asian powerhouse was dethroned after failing to complete a clean sweep against New Zealand in the final ODI match held in Karachi on Sunday, May 7.

ICC ODI rankings as of May 7, 2023.—ICC website
ICC ODI rankings as of May 7, 2023.—ICC website 

In a historic achievement, Pakistan achieved the No. 1 ranking on Friday by defeating New Zealand by a massive 102-run margin in the 4th ODI. This victory propelled them past traditional powerhouses India and Australia, securing the coveted top position in ODI cricket. 

However, their hold on the throne was short-lived as the consolation win by New Zealand dashed their hopes of a complete series whitewash and sent them tumbling down from the summit.

In a crucial series finale on Sunday, Pakistan’s hopes of maintaining their No. 1 spot in the ICC Men’s ODI Rankings were dashed as they suffered a 47-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand. This setback caused them to slide back to the No. 3 position in the rankings.

Currently, Australia leads the pack with 113 points, closely followed by India at the No. 2 spot, also with 113 points. Pakistan now finds itself at No. 3 with 112 points. As the ODI World Cup year unfolds, the competition for the top spot intensifies, promising an exhilarating battle among these top-ranked teams.

Despite securing a commanding 4-1 victory in the 5-match series, Babar, the Pakistan team captain, acknowledged that they fell short of achieving their desired outcome.

“It was a brilliant series but didn’t finish it the way we wanted. We didn’t do well with the bat at the top and Agha and Iftikhar got a good partnership but we left too many runs for them,” he added.

In a thrilling encounter on Sunday, New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first, setting a challenging target of 299 runs in 49.3 overs.

Opening batsman Will Young showcased his skills with a rapid-fire knock of 91 runs from 87 balls. The entire batting unit contributed significantly to the team’s total, although Tom Blundell (15) and Henry Nicholls departed early. Captain Tom Latham led from the front, scoring a well-earned 59 off 58 deliveries.

In the middle overs, Mark Chapman played his usual attacking game, smashing two sixes and five boundaries. Rachin Ravindra provided a late flourish with a quick cameo of 28 runs from just 20 balls, pushing the total close to the 300-run mark.

Shaheen Afridi was the standout performer among the Pakistan bowlers, claiming three wickets. Usama Mir and Shadab Khan also chipped in with two wickets each.

However, Pakistan’s batting lineup faltered as their star players, Babar Azam (1) and Mohammad Rizwan (9), departed early in the chase. Agha Salman (57) and Iftikhar Ahmed (94 off 72 balls) fought valiantly to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive. Iftikhar’s knock included two sixes and eight boundaries, and he remained unbeaten at the end of the innings.

Despite Iftikhar’s heroic efforts, Pakistan’s chase fell short as they left too much to be achieved in the closing stages. New Zealand celebrated their first victory in the ODI series, marking a significant moment for the team.

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