Series against New Zealand offers chance to Rizwan, Babar to get closer to top ranking

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing battle at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Batter Rankings continues to heat up as Pakistan duo Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam get the chance to close in on India starlet Suryakumar Yadav at the head of proceedings.

Babar moved up to third on the rankings that were updated by the ICC on Wednesday and will get further opportunity to make inroads on Suryakumar when Pakistan commence their five-game T20I series against New Zealand on Saturday.

Both Babar and Rizwan sat out Pakistan’s most recent T20I series against Afghanistan and will be keen to score freely against the Black Caps, who are coming off a narrow 2-1 series triumph over Sri Lanka at home.

While Suryakumar currently holds a commanding lead at the top of the T20I rankings for batters with 906 rating points, second-placed Rizwan (811) and third-placed Babar (755) could make gains while the India star is plying his trade in the IPL.

Ironically, it was Devon Conway’s absence from New Zealand’s series against Sri Lanka that led to Babar improving one place to third on the latest set of rankings, with the Kiwi batter also at the IPL with the Chennai Super Kings.

A host of New Zealand and Sri Lanka stars that did feature in the recently completed T20I series were rewarded for their performances with young spinner Maheesh Theekshana the biggest eye-catcher as the 22-year-old rose to a career-high rating and equal fifth-place on the rankings for bowlers.

Theekshana was the match-winner for Sri Lanka in the first match of the series for his efforts during the Super Over and the off-spinner backed up that performance with a pair of strong showings while opening the bowling in the final two matches.
Teammate Wanindu Hasaranga was expensive during the series and duly dropped two places to fourth on the T20I bowler rankings, with Afghanistan pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (second) and Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood (third) both rising a place as a result. It also means Afghanistan hold the top two spots on the T20I bowler rankings, with spinner Rashid Khan leading Farooqi in what is a tight ongoing race for top spot.

Sri Lanka dasher Kusal Mendis (up 11 spots to equal 25th) and New Zealand right-hander Tim Seifert (from outside the top 100 to 36th) were the other big winners on the latest set of T20I rankings for batters, while there was some movement on the Test rankings following Bangladesh’s victory over Ireland in Mirpur.

Experienced right-hander Mushfiqur Rahim moved up five places to 17th on the Test batter rankings after scores of 126 and 51*, while spin duo Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan were rewarded on the list for bowlers. Taijul collected a valuable five-wicket haul during the first innings and moved up three places to 20th as a result, while the Bangladesh skipper improved two spots to equal 26th following his figures of 2/26 when opening the bowling in the second innings. (APP)