Karachi, 5 May 2023: Pakistan peaked to No.1 on the ICC ODI Team Rankings as Babar Azam stroked his 18th century on way to becoming the quickest batter to 5,000 runs in his side’s comprehensive 102 runs victory over New Zealand in the fourth match at the National Bank Stadium on Friday.
By virtue of taking a 4-0 lead over New Zealand in a five-match series, Pakistan has joined Australia and India on 113 points, but are ranked above the two when the points are calculated beyond the decimal point.
Pakistan will have an opportunity to take sole position of the No.1 ranking with 115 points if they win the final match of the series on Sunday. On the other side of the coin, Pakistan will slip to third position on 112 points if New Zealand record a consolation win.
Pakistan had entered the series in fifth position on 106 points, while it took the field on Friday as the third-ranked side on 112 points. Pakistan’s previous highest ranking since the inception of the official ICC rankings in 2005 was third, which it achieved twice in January 2007 and June 2022. Pakistan had also previously topped the Test rankings in 2016, while they had achieved the No.1 T20I ranking in 2017.
World’s top-ranked batter Babar Azam led Pakistan’s rise to No.1 on Friday when he scored a 117-ball 107, his 18th career century, to steer Pakistan to 334 for six after it was put into bat. In turn, New Zealand slipped from 184 for three in 33.1 overs to 232 all-out in 43.4 overs with Usama Mir and Mohammad Wasim Junior sharing seven wickets between them.
When Babar reached 19, he completed 5,000 ODI runs, becoming the fastest to the milestone in 97 innings of 99 matches. He eclipsed Hashim Amla, who had achieved the feat in 101 innings. Babar’s innings was studded with 10 fours and he was involved in four fruitful partnerships.
For the second wicket with Shan Masood (44, 55b, 7x4), Babar added 50 runs from 60 balls, while his third wicket partnership with Mohammad Rizwan (27) yielded 42 runs from 47 balls. In the most entertaining and strokeful partnership for the fourth wicket, Babar added 117 runs from 100 balls with Salman Ali Agha, who scored a 46-ball 58 with four fours and two sixes. Babar’s fifth wicket 41-run stand from 35 balls with Iftikhar Ahmed (28, 22b, 5x4) produced 41 runs from 35 balls.
After the top-order had laid the foundation of a solid score, Shaheen Shah Afridi finished the innings with a flurry when he slapped Blair Tickner for three sixes and four in the last over to finish with seven-ball 23 not out.
With Mohammad Haris, Shaheen added 38 runs in 12 balls for the unbroken seven wicket partnership as Pakistan collected 94 runs off the last 10 overs, including 70 runs off the last five overs.
In chase of a 335-run target, New Zealand slipped to 46 for two before Daryl Mitchell (34) and Tom Latham (60) added 83 runs off 103 balls for the third wicket to put their side back on track. But, when Latham became the fourth batter to depart at the score of 184 in the 34th over, Pakistan bowlers tightened the screws around New Zealand as the visitors were bowled out for 232 in 43.4 overs.
In the second half of the innings, Mark Chapman offered some resistance, hitting four fours and three sixes in a 33-ball 46 before he was bowled by Usama Mir, who finished with four for 43.
Haris Rauf accounted for Tom Blundell (23) and Jimmy Neeshan (11), while Mohammad Wasim Junior dismissed Will Young (15), Cole McConchie (8) and Blair Tickner.
Scores in brief:
Pakistan beat New Zealand by 102 runs, fourth ODI
Pakistan 334-6, 50 overs (Babar Azam 107, Salman Ali Agha 58, Shan Masood 44, Iftikhar Ahmed 28, Shaheen Shah Afridi 23 not out, Mohammad Rizwan 24; Matt Henry 3-65)
New Zealand 232 all out, 43.3 overs (Tom Latham 60, Mark Chapman 46, Daryl Mitchell 34, Tom Blundell 23; Usama Mir 4-43, Mohammad Wasim Junior 3-40, Haris Rauf 2-37)
Player of the match – Babar Azam (Pakistan)