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All-round Pakistan sweep series 3-0; climb atop ICC ODI World Rankings

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All-round Pakistan sweep series 3-0; climb atop ICC ODI World Rankings

Pakistan_v_Afghanistan_3-0

Colombo, Aug 26 (IANS) Superb bowling effort by Shadab Khan (3-42), Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-31) and Faheem Ashraf (2-43) after half-centuries by skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (67) helped Pakistan beat Afghanistan by 59 runs and win their three-match series 3-0 here on Saturday.

The superb all-round performance that led to Pakistan’s clean sweep against Afghanistan saw them overtake Australia for the No. 1 spot in the  ICC Men’s ODI Rankings.

After a brief sojourn with the pole position in May, a series whitewash over Afghanistan helped Pakistan return to the No. 1 spot in the Men’s ODI Rankings. 

Pakistan went into the third and final ODI leading 2-0 and defeated their neighbours after a solid second half of the innings with the bat. 

Despite a stutter in the middle with the bat, Pakistan finished strong on a slow pitch, making 268 with Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam scoring half-centuries.

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In reply, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Faheem Ashraf snared two early wickets before the spinners struck at regular intervals to keep Afghanistan in check. 

Mujeeb ur Rahman struck the fastest half-century for Afghanistan in ODI cricket history for a late fightback.

He hammered a 26-ball half-century to improve upon Rashid Khan’s record of reaching fifty in 27 balls against Ireland. But his  37-ball 64 was not enough as Pakistan had too much on board for Afghanistan to win. Shadab finished with three wickets to his name as Pakistan completed a whitewash.

Pakistan have dominated the ODI format over the last year. In the 2022 season, they whitewashed West Indies and Netherlands 3-0 at home and away respectively. They followed this up with a 2-1 series win over New Zealand at home in January 2023.

The Black Caps then returned for a five-game ODI contest in April. Pakistan managed to win the series 4-1. Now the 3-0 series win has helped them to the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

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Before the Afghanistan series, Australia were at the top of the ranking table with 118 rating points while Pakistan were placed second with 115.8 rating points. 

Now Pakistan sit atop with 118.48 rating points while Australia are at the second rank with no change to their points. 

With the upcoming Asia Cup and other ODI contests in the build-up to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, there remains room for movement among the top three: Pakistan, Australia and India. 

Brief scores:

Pakistan 268/8 in 50 overs (Babar Azam 60, Mohd Rizwan 67, Agha Salman 38 not out; Gulbadin Naib 2-36, Fareed Ahmad 2-70) beat Afghanistan 209 all out in 48.4 overs (Mujeeb Ur Rahman 64, Shahidullah 37; Shadab Khan 3-42, Shaheen Afridi 2-31, Faheem Ashraf 2-43) by 59 runs.

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