Pakistan skipper Babar Azam and young pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi moved up in the Test rankings as the International Cricket Council (ICC) issued fresh rankings Wednesday.
Azam is one step closer in his quest to become the number 1 batter in all three formats of the game after the Pakistan captain moved closer to the top Test ranking.
While Azam already holds top billing in both white-ball formats, he is yet to reach the summit at the Test level and still trails England’s Joe Root.
Root remains clear at the top of the Test list, but Babar rises one spot to third overall and to a career-high rating of 874 points on the back of his tremendous century in the opening Test of Pakistan’s ongoing series against Sri Lanka in Galle.
Babar scored almost 55% of Pakistan’s first-innings runs during that Test, with the right-hander contributing 119 runs to a team score of 218 that ultimately helped the side keep in touch with Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 222.
The in-form captain wasn’t the only Pakistan player to make an eye-catching move on the latest rankings, with star pacer Shaheen Afridi also jumping up a spot on the list for Test bowlers.
Afridi picked up four wickets during the first innings of that Test against Sri Lanka and that catapulted him in front of India quick Jasprit Bumrah and into third on the bowler rankings.
Pakistan opener Abdullah Shafique was named Player of the Match for his match-winning century in the second innings of that Galle Test and that saw him jump 23 spots to 16th overall on the batter rankings with 671 rating points.
Only two batters have had more points after six Tests – Sunil Gavaskar (692) and Donald Bradman (687). Shafique’s 671 points are the most for a Pakistan batter after six Tests, the previous being Saeed Ahmed with 614 points.
Pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi performs Umrah
Pakistan ace pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is in Saudi Arabia, recently had the privilege to perform Umrah.
Shaheen has not distanced himself from social media and is keeping his fans updated with all that he’s doing.
Taking to two social media platforms — Twitter and Instagram — the fast bowler shared a picture of himself at the Khana-e-Ka’aba.
“Alhamdulillah,” he captioned the picture.
Soon after Shaheen posted the picture, fans and supporters started pouring in their love and flooded the comments section with praises for one of the best bowlers.
Pakistan cricketer Sajid Khan, who made his international debut for the national team in April 2021, congratulated Shaheen.
The speedster, who was recovering from a knee injury, is ready to jump back into action, as he has fully recovered from the injury which has kept him out of action since November 2022.
“I have around 55 overs under my belt during training and I’m ready to feature in all forms of cricket,” said Shaheen, while speaking to the media persons.
The pacer said that he was bowling as he used to before the injury and that he was ready to step out on the field once again.
Shaheen is currently not a part of the Pakistan squad since the 22-year-old is recovering from a knee injury, which he suffered during the T20 World Cup 2022 final against England on November 13.
“Staying on the sidelines was tough for me. I decided to participate in the T20 World Cup because the team needed me. If I was running in to bowl in the T20 World Cup like I’m doing now, the result would have been different,” the pacer said while speaking about his time away from the pitch
Shaheen also expressed disappointment about missing out on the home season, which included tours by England and New Zealand.
“I was upset about missing the home series against England and New Zealand. I wanted to play in front of my home crowd and help the team win,” he said.
The lanky pacer will lead Lahore Qalandars during the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), where his side is the defending champions.
The eighth edition of the PSL is scheduled to be held from February 13 to March 19, 2023.
Shaheen’s return to international cricket will be subject to the fast bowler’s successful completion of the rehabilitation programme and the following go-ahead by the medical staff.
Recently Shaheen took to Twitter to share videos of his practice session.
Quetta ‘to not host’ PSL 2023 matches
KARACHI: Quetta will no longer be the fifth venue for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) — scheduled to begin next month.
Speaking to The News, a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said that all the efforts to organise some of the PSL matches at the Bugti Stadium in Quetta proved “futile due to various reasons”, with the foremost being extreme weather conditions in the city.
“We are thankful to all those who helped the PCB with its efforts to organise PSL matches in Quetta. Following the announcement by the PCB Management Committee head Najam Sethi, we sent a special team to Quetta with the aim to make special arrangements to organise some of the PSL matches there,” the official said.
“The team held meetings with all the stakeholders in Quetta but came to the conclusion that it would not be possible to organise matches in the city this fall,” the official said.
“We are thankful to all, including the Corps Commander and the provincial administration for extending full support. However, we have decided that this time it will not be feasible to hold PSL matches there.”
“The main reason is extreme weather in Quetta and also the delay in starting the preparations for the extravaganza,” he said.
The official, however, was hopeful of organising warm-up or exhibition matches at the venue with the plan that from next year onward, Quetta would become a permanent venue for the PSL.
“I think from 2024 onward, Quetta can become a permanent venue of the PSL fixtures,” the official added.
The News, however, has learnt that one of the issues that prevented the PCB from conducting matches in Quetta was the difficulty of effective beaming of the PSL matches and technicalities involved in it.
“Sethi and other members of the board made sincere efforts to take the PSL to Quetta. We strongly believe that PSL nine matches can well be organised in Quetta in an effective and professional way. We are planning to kick-start the preparations early,” the official said.
The PCB official was also hopeful about holding some of the matches in Peshawar next year.
“Besides Quetta, we are also planning to hold some of the PSL 9 matches in Peshawar,” the official said.
The PSL 2023 matches, starting in February, will now be held at four venues — Lahore, Karachi, Multan and Rawalpindi.
PSL schedule to be ‘announced soon’
LAHORE: The schedule of the eighth edition of the much-awaited national T20 cricket event, Pakistan Super League (PSL), is likely to be announced on Friday, sources told Geo News on Wednesday.
The schedule of the eighth edition of the tournament has been finalised, however, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will hold final consultation with the PSL franchisers tomorrow (Thursday), the sources said.
According to the sources, the inaugural ceremony of the PSL will be staged in Multan as per the current schedule.
The sources added that the matches of the tournament would be played at four different venues. They also mentioned that the PSL will commence on February 13 and the final would be played on March 19.
PSL matches would be played in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, and Rawalpindi, the sources noted. They added that the matches at the four venues would be played simultaneously.
The sources also said that the strategy to allow the PCB to stage one exhibition match in Quetta has also been discussed. The exhibition matches would be played between Peshawar and Quetta, the sources added.
PSL 2023 Draft
The players’ draft for PSL 2023 was held in December last year in Karachi, with around 1,000 local and foreign players available to be picked by six franchises for 61 slots.
Five out of six PSL teams had retained eight players, while Peshawar Zalmi retained seven players last month when the retention and transfer windows were closed.
These teams completed a squad of 18 — which had three players each in the platinum, diamond, and gold categories, five in the silver category, two in emerging and up to two in supplementary categories.
Teams could have up to three foreign players in the first three categories — platinum, diamond, and gold — among them one overseas player was mandatory in platinum and diamond.
In a squad of 16, teams picked five overseas players, while in 18 they had six foreign players.
As many as 517 foreigners and 491 Pakistani players were available for selection.