Babar Azam becomes No. 1 ODI batsman, ends Virat Kohli’s 41-month reign

Islamabad: Pakistan captain Babar Azam is now the No.1-ranked ODI batsman, ending India captain Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the charts. Babar’s match-winning 82-ball 94 in the third ODI against South Africa helped him gain 13 rating points to reach career-best 865 points.

Azam made a total of 228 runs in Pakistan’s famous series win against South Africa, including a century in the first match in Centurion. That helped him move ahead of Kohli – who has been No. 1 since displacing AB de Villiers in October 2017 – by a point, but he dropped to 852 after his score of 31 in the second ODI and remained at No. 2 by the time of the last weekly rankings update.

After his knock in the third ODI, he gained eight more than Kohli, to became just the fourth Pakistan batsman to attain the top ranking after Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003).

“This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time,” Azam said.

“I feel privileged and honoured to have joined the company of stalwarts like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf, who will always be the shining stars of Pakistan cricket. I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman’s calibre, reputation and skills.”

Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman also made a jump in the rankings, moving five positions up to achieve a career-best seventh position after his knocks of 193 and 101 in the second and third ODI respectively. Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who picked up six wickets in the three matches, rose four spots to a career-best 11th place.

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