x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

World T20 rankings are a low blow for Pakistan

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is upset at seventh place, and in the individual rankings, Umar Akmal is the country's only batsman in the top 25

Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, right, talks to Mohsin Khan, the coach, at a practice session in Dubai  yesterday.
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, right, talks to Mohsin Khan, the coach, at a practice session in Dubai yesterday.

DUBAI // Misbah-ul-Haq has expressed shock at how low Pakistan have been placed in the new Twenty20 rankings, as unveiled by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday.

Pakistan were ranked seventh, ahead only of the West Indies, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

England, the reigning World T20 champions top the table, followed by Sri Lanka. Only six points separate the next four sides, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Australia.

On first viewing, Pakistan's ranking seems low given that they won the World T20 in 2009, were runners-up in 2007 and semi-finalists in 2010, and have been considered one of the more proficient sides in the shortest format of the game.

But the rankings only consider results since August 2009, when, as Misbah, the captain, acknowledged, Pakistan have been poor: they have lost 13 of the 24 T20s played since. In contrast, Pakistan had won 18 of the first 24 T20s they played until that period.

But it was this poor recent form, Misbah said, which formed the basis of his shock, rather than at the ICC's calculations.

"It was quite a shock to the whole team," Misbah said ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dubai. "We felt it quite a lot, all the players. All the players have quite a lot of concern about it and they all want to do well [to change that ranking]. We've lost quite a few of our last T20s, so all the players felt it and their thinking is that they need to improve it now."

Pakistan will have an opportunity to put that record straight over the course of this winter. They play one T20 against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi in November. Although the itinerary of their trip to Bangladesh is not yet finalised, they are expected to play one - possibly two - T20s there.

In February next year, they take on England in three T20s in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The World T20 is also due to be held in Sri Lanka, from September next year.

"Next time we play a T20, this will be our approach, that this is a format that we have done really well in," Misbah said. "It's a format that we've played a lot, and our performances in the three World Cups, as runners-up first, then winners and then semi-finalists, we want to bring that ranking back."

Pakistan's poor form is reflected in the individual rankings as well.

Umar Akmal is their only batsman in the top 25, while Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul are the only bowlers. They do have, however, three all-rounders in the top 10: Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdul Razzaq.

England's Eoin Morgan is the top-ranked batsman, while Ajantha Mendis from Sri Lanka heads the bowling charts. Brendon McCullum and Kevin Pietersen were second and third in the rankings for batsmen.

"The introduction of rankings for international Twenty20 cricket provides real context to the various series played between member countries on an ongoing basis," Andy Flower, England's team director, said.

The prominent role of spinners in the format is reflected in seven of the top 10 spots for bowlers occupied by slow bowlers.

"I believe spin bowlers have adapted to T20 cricket better than most," Daniel Vettori, the former New Zealand captain who has retired from T20s, said.

"To see spinners succeed in a tough environment is great for the game and means bowlers can enjoy Twenty20 cricket."

osamiuddin@thenational.ae


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