Babar Azam retains fifth slot as ICC issues latest Test rankings

F.P. Report

DUBAI: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam retained his fifth position in latest Test batting rankings for men issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday.

The right-arm batsman stands at the slot with 862 points and he is expected to improve the rankings as Pakistan is set to open his campaign for next cycle of the World Test Championship against Sri Lanka next year. The Babar Azam-led squad will take on Sri Lanka in two test matches.

Meanwhhil, Marnus Labuschagne’s reign as the No.1 ranked Test batter in the world is over with England’s Joe Root replacing the Australian in top spot.

Labuschagne has held the premier position for just over six months, with the right-hander rising to the top in December last year on the back of a strong start to the Australian summer against the West Indies.

But a slow start to 2023 by his lofty standards, coupled with Root’s 30th Test century against Australia in the dramatic first Ashes Test at Edgbaston has seen a major shakeup at the top of the batter rankings.

Root managed scores of 118* and 46 in a losing cause during the first Ashes Test in Birmingham and those superb individual efforts saw the 32-year-old rise a massive five places and regain his place as the No.1 ranked Test batter in the world.

Labuschagne drops to third as a result of scores of 0 and 13 against England, with Kiwi veteran Kane Williamson jumping two places to second overall.

Fellow Australians Travis Head (down one place to fourth) and Steve Smith (drops four spots to sixth) also lose ground in the race to become the No.1 Test batter, with just 26 rating points now separating the top six players in what is one of the closest battles seen in recent times.

Australia opener Usman Khawaja was adjudged Player of the Match for his heroics against England and the 36-year-old rose to a new career best rating and seventh place overall, while young gun Harry Brook also earnt the highest mark of his short Test career by jumping five places to 13th on the latest Test rankings.

The ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier saw some minor changes to the latest ODI rankings, with Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood perhaps the biggest beneficiary as the 35-year-old improved two places to third overall on the updated list for all-rounders.

Maqsood contributed a valuable 59 and picked up a wicket as Oman upset Ireland in their opening match of the Qualifier, while the left-arm spinner also jumped five places to 40th on the list for ODI bowlers.

USA pacer Saurabh Netravalkar has four wickets from two matches at the Qualifier and the left-armer jumps five places to 18th overall and a career high rating on the list for bowlers. He is the first USA player to reach the top 20 in either batting or bowling in the ODI rankings.