England stay on top

September 13, 2020

Since the start of 2019, England’s top seven batsmen have averaged 30.91 at a high strike-rate of 152.71 in T20 cricket

England won the Twenty20 series against Australia 2-1 after leveling the T20 series with Pakistan earlier this month. Despite the series defeat Australia secured the top ranking in Twenty20 cricket once again.

After getting a decisive 2-0 lead in the series England provisionally took the number one position in the shortest format of the game and needed a clean sweep to retain the top position. But with a five-wicket win in the last game, Australia reclaimed the top spot.

England is one of the most potent sides in both forms of white-ball cricket. Their last series loss in T20I cricket was over two years ago, following which they have won five consecutive series.

Pakistan dropped to 4th position. Green-shirts had secured the number one position in January 2018 after defeating New Zealand, and maintained their supremacy in the shortest format of the sport for 27 months.

In May 2020, Pakistan lost their top position in the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 rankings after more than two years, sliding to the fourth position as Australia rose to number one in both Test matches and T20 Internationals.

In 2019, the Green-shirts lost four series in a row, including a 3-0 clean sweep at home at the hands of Sri Lanka in October.

Since February 2019, Pakistan have played 15 Twenty20 matches, and won only four. As usual batting is Pakistan’s main concern. Since the start of 2019, Pakistan’s top seven batsmen have scored with an average of just 21.98 while strike rate remained 122.14. On the other hand, England’s batsmen have averaged 30.91 at a high strike-rate of 152.71.

Pakistan T20 and ODI skipper Babar Azam also slipped from the first to the second position with 869 points in the ICC T20 batsmen ranking.

England’s Dawid Malan (877 points) replaced Babar as world’s No 1 batsman after a successful T20 series against Australia. Malan secured top position after playing just 16 T20 Internationals. He has scored eight fifties, with an average of 48.71 and an impressive strike rate of 146.66.

When Misbah-ul-Haq took over as head coach and chief selector in last September Pakistan were the No 1 side in the ICC T20I ranking. Now they are fourth. Misbah has pointed out the loss of form of several players who had helped Pakistan achieve that ranking. He mentioned opener Fakhar Zaman, spinner Shadab Khan and fast bowler Hasan Ali in this regard.

“But we are trying to take them to the same place. With the series in England, it’s evident that the team is in the making and going forward you will see better performances,” said Misbah.

The Green-shirts’ fortunes in Test cricket have also not improved under Misbah; they remain at No7 where they were when Misbah took charge.

All this is in complete contrast to what Misbah achieved as captain. Under his leadership, Pakistan became a very strong Test side. In 2016, Pakistan became the number one Test team following an impressive 2-2 draw in the four-Test series in England.

In Twenty20 format, Pakistan were at their peak when Mickey Arthur was the head coach (2016-2019). In his tenure, Pakistan played 37 T20Is in which they remained successful on 30 occasions. It was the best win-ratio among the teams that played at least 15 matches in that period.

Pakistan team’s decline began with a 3-0 home series loss against Sri Lanka. It was Misbah’s first series as head coach. After that Australia beat Pakistan 2-0 at their soil. After a sudden decline in the team performance some significant changes were made. Babar was appointed captain for ODI and T20I in place of Sarfraz Ahmed.

The 25-year-old Babar has an excellent record in both ODIs and T20Is. A few years back, former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara said that Babar is one of the most exciting young talents he has seen in a long time.

Babar has been named captain for the 2020-21 season. The chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has said that Babar Azam has been given the ODI captaincy keeping in mind the 2023 World Cup so that the ace batsman can be groomed in three years’ time for the mega event.

In the last one year, 12 new players received green cap, including Khushdil Shah, Muhammad Musa, Ahsan Ali, Haris Rauf, and Haider Ali as Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf and Asif Ali lost the confidence of Misbah-ul-Haq.

[email protected]

England stay on top