Babar Azam
Pakistan's captain Babar Azam (right) celebrates scoring a century during their T20 series against South Africa last week. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: Babar Azam, the prolific Pakistan captain, placed himself in a pole position to wrest back the No.1 T20 batsman’s ranking as he moved to second spot behind England’s Dawid Malan in the ICC weekly update based on performances in the last two games of their four-match series against South Africa.

Though Babar is still 48 points adrift of top-ranked Malan, the three-match series against Zimbabwe from Wednesday presents the Karachi batsman with another opportunity to move towards the top spot, which he had occupied till November last year. Azam would then be holding top positions in both forms of white ball cricket as replaced Indian captain Virat Kohli on top of the ODI batsmen’s rankings last week.

This week’s ICC rankings had been a productive one for Pakistan cricketers following their superlative performance in South Africa. Opener Fakhar Zaman has followed up his progress in the ODI rankings with that in T20Is, gaining 17 slots to reach 33rd position after scores of eight not out and 60 in the last two matches. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who notched an unbeaten knock of 73 in the third match, has advanced eight places to reach a career-best 15th position.

Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has attained a career best-equalling 11th spot after grabbing a wicket each in the two matches while Faheem Ashraf (up 12 places to 16th), Mohammad Nawaz (up four places to 24th) and Haris Rauf (up 43 places to 38th) also moving up in the bowlers’ list.

Shaheen Afridi
Shaheen Afridi, the left-arm Pakistan paceman, has also made significant gains in the current ICC rankings. Image Credit: AFP

For South Africa, Rassie van der Dussen has advanced three slots to sixth position, just one shy of his career-best, after scores of 34 not out and 52. Aiden Markram (up 31 places to 34th) and Janneman Malan (up 52 places to 73rd) are the other batsmen to move up from the team while left-arm spinner George Linde (up 29 places to 107th) has also progressed.

The latest weekly update also takes into account the first four matches of the ongoing Nepal tri-series that features the Netherlands and Malaysia apart from the hosts.

Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane advanced eight places to joint-77th position after taking eight wickets in three outings of the tournament while his captain Gyanendra Malla has moved up 10 places to 107th position among batsmen. The Netherlands’ Scott Edwards (up 12 places to 136th) and Pieter Seelaar (up 25 places to 188th) are among others to gain in the latest update.

Pakistan’s 3-1 win in the series against South Africa comes as a moralebooster in the year of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup but they remain in fourth position in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings after gaining two points and reaching an aggregate of 262. South Africa are still sixth in the list, led by England but have lost two points and are now on 249.