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ICC Test rankings: Babar Azam, Travis Head close in on top spot

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Australian batter Travis Head are closing in on the top spots in the ICC rankings of Test batters as they make rapid improvements in separate red ball series.

Head is now second with 874 points after jumping two spots. He is short of only nine points as compared to New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, who ranks first with 883 in the Test batter rankings, the latest update issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday said.

Meanwhile, Babar is also not far behind, as he jumped three spots to the third position in the list, with 862 points.

“Australia star Travis Head is the newest challenger to the No.1 Test batter ranking after the in-form left-hander rose to a career-high second place on the latest ICC Men’s Test Batting Rankings,” the ICC said in a press release.

“Head jumps two places and up to second behind New Zealand veteran Kane Williamson on the back of his tremendous Ashes series against England that has already netted the 29-year-old a total of 266 runs at an average of 44.33.

“In the most recent Test of that series in Headingley, Head contributed scores of 39 and 77 and was a major reason why the visitors went close to recording a third consecutive Ashes victory.

“Head’s rise up the batter charts has seen yet another re-shuffle at the top of the batting rankings, with Pakistan captain Babar Azam jumping three places to third and fellow Australians Steve Smith (fourth) and Marnus Labuschagne (fifth) and England’s Joe Root (sixth) all dropping one spot in what is an enthralling race for top billing.”

Head will look to clinch the top spot during the remaining two matches of the ongoing Ashes cricket series. 

Meanwhile, Azam will look to do the same during the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka this month. 

“Pakistan captain Babar Azam jumping three places to third and fellow Australians Steve Smith (fourth) and Marnus Labuschagne (fifth) and England’s Joe Root (sixth) all dropping one spot in what is an enthralling race for top billing,” the ICC stated. 

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Shaheen Afridi and Babar Azam get special jerseys from PCB chairman

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After the victory over Ireland, Babar Azam surpassed Uganda’s Brian Masaba (44 victories) to become the most successful skipper in T20I history with 45 wins. Since taking over as captain in 2019, Azam has guided Pakistan in 78 games.

In the interim, Shaheen Afridi reached the noteworthy landmark of 300 wickets in international cricket. During the second Twenty20 International, Ireland skipper Paul Stirling became his 300th wicket.

The 24-year-old is also the fifth-youngest bowler to reach the mark.

Since making his international debut in 2018, he has played in 145 matches across all formats for Pakistan. In Test cricket, he claimed 113 wickets, while in ODI and T20I, he claimed 104 and 84 wickets respectively.

Interestingly, in the second Twenty20 International, Pakistan chose to bowl first, and in the fourth over, Afridi dismissed both of Ireland’s openers, bringing the score down to 34-2.

Nonetheless, Ireland reached 193 in their allotted 20 overs thanks to an outstanding 51 runs from 34 balls by Lorcan Tucker, which included five boundaries and two sixes. Gareth Delany also hit a rapid 28 off 10 balls.

Thanks to the half-centuries of Fakkhar Zaman and Muhammad Rizwan, Pakistan was able to successfully chase the 194-run mark with 19 balls remaining.

After early wickets from Babar Azam (0) and Saim Ayub (6), they put up a 140-run partnership in 78 balls to turn the tide of the match in Pakistan’s favour.

With an undefeated 75 off 46 balls that included six boundaries and four sixes, Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan, while Zaman was removed after making 78 runs off of 40 balls.

Another important contributor was Azam Khan, who scored an undefeated 30 off 10 with four sixes. In the seventeenth over, he blasted three sixes off Mark Adair to end the match in spectacular fashion.

Pakistan and Ireland will play their third and final Twenty20 International tomorrow, May 14.

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PCB will install floodlights for PSL matches at Quetta Stadium.

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By installing floodlights by September, PCB will keep its word. Following stadium renovations, PSL matches would also be held in Quetta, according to Naqvi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

He stated at a press conference held at Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Cricket Stadium that the possibility of holding Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Quetta was being considered.

In Gwadar and Quetta, he said, the PCB would do its part to promote cricket.
Quetta Stadium will soon have floodlights installed, as announced by the interior minister, which Chief Minister Bugti congratulated for the news.

The province has a wealth of skills, and installing floodlights will help promote sports and cricket in particular. He responded to a query by saying that chances will be given to the province’s youth at the federal level.

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The women’s team from Pakistan travels to England for a white-ball series.

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The national squad left Karachi earlier today to play three Twenty20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals in the series.

Dr. Muhammad Faisal, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in England, greeted the women’s team and management.

The team will soon depart for Leicester to play a practice match on 9 May against the ECB Development XI. On May 11, in Birmingham, the first Twenty20 International will take place.

Notably, this will be Pakistan’s eighth and final series of the current event cycle. The ODIs in the series are a part of the ICC Women’s Championship 2022–25.

Pakistan women squad for England tour

Nida Dar (captain), Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Gull Feroza, Muneeba Ali (wk), Najiha Alvi (wk), Nashra Sundhu, Natalia Parvaiz, Rameen Shamim, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Tuba Hassan, Umm-e-Hani and Waheeda Akhtar

Player support personnel: Nahida Khan (manager), Mauhtashim Rasheed (interim head coach), Saleem Jaffar (bowling coach), Taufeeq Umar (batting coach), Hanif Malik (fielding coach), Syed Nazir Ahmed (media manager), Rabia Siddiq (physiotherapist), Zubair Ahmed (analyst) and Hina Munawar (chief security officer)

Tour Schedule

9 May – T20 warm-up game v ECB Development XI, Uptonsteel County Ground (11.00 am local time)

11 May – 1st T20I, Birmingham (2.30 pm local time)

17 May – 2nd T20I, Northampton (6.30 pm local time)

19 May – 3rd T20I, Leeds (1.00 pm local time)

21 May – One-Day warm-up game v ECB Development XI, Northampton (11.00 am local time)

23 May – 1st ODI, Derby (1.00 pm local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

26 May – 2nd ODI, Taunton (11.00 am local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

29 May – 3rd ODI, Chelmsford (1.00 pm local time) (ICC Women’s Championship)

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