England whitewash can help Pakistan top ICC Test rankings

LAHORE – Pakistan cricket team needs to whitewash England in the upcoming four-Test series as it can help it top the ICC Test rankings.

Head coach Mickey Arthur holds a meeting with the bowlers during the Pakistan nets session ahead of the 1st Investec Test match between England and Pakistan at Lords Cricket Ground on July 13, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. AFP
Head coach Mickey Arthur holds a meeting with the bowlers during the Pakistan nets session ahead of the 1st Investec Test match between England and Pakistan at Lords Cricket Ground on July 13, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. AFP

The small difference in points among Pakistan, England and India throws up a number of interesting scenarios. Pakistan is all set to take on England in Test series, knowing that it is within striking distance of overtaking the opposition in the ICC Test Team rankings.

A win for Pakistan in the series, by a 2-1 or 3-1 margin, will help it leapfrog India into second place, a position it has reached only once since the officials rankings were launched in 2003. That was in November last year when it beat England 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pakistan even has a chance to surge to the top of the rankings, but to make this happen, it will have to win 3-0 or better. Pakistan’s best performance in England has been a 2-0 win in a three-Test series in 1996.

England, which recently prevailed 2-0 over Sri Lanka in a three-Test home series, is only three points behind Pakistan’s 111 points. This means that margins of 2-1 or 1-0 win will be enough for it to go past Pakistan in the points table, currently led by Australia at 118 points. Either of these results will see England lift to 110 points and Pakistan slip down to 107.

If England prevails 2-0 or 3-1, it will tie with second-placed India at 112 points, which is due to take on the West Indies in a four-Test series that ends a week after the England-Pakistan series. In case England is able to capitalise on the home advantage even better, it can rise to second position to 113 points with a 3-0 win and to 114 if it blanks Pakistan 4-0.

Pakistan boasts five batsmen inside the top 20, while opener M Hafeez is just outside the top 20 in 22nd place. Younus Khan, who in the series against England in the UAE last season had become his country’s first batsman to complete 9,000 Test runs, is the highest-ranked batsman in fifth position. He trails Root by 11 points and will be eyeing a top three finish by the time the series concludes in mid-August at The Oval.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq is in 10th position and he is followed by Asad Shafiq (13th), Sarfraz Ahmed (19th) and Azhar Ali (20th). In the ICC player rankings for Test batsmen, England’s Joe Root will start as the highest-ranked batsman from either side in fourth place. The Yorkshire batsman will be keen to convert his poor run of form, which has seen him drop two places and 52 points following an ordinary series against Sri Lanka.

Captain Alastair Cook (12th) and in-form Jonny Bairstow (18th) are the other England batsmen to feature inside the top 20, who along with Ben Stokes (37th) and Moeen Ali (39th) will be aiming to make upward movements. Bairstow has a chance to break into the top 10 if he continues the kind of form he showed in the recent home series against Sri Lanka, in which he aggregated 387 runs including an unbeaten 167 at Lord’s. Australia’s Steve Smith leads the field and he is followed by Kane Williamson of New Zealand and South Africa’s Hashim Amla.

In the player rankings for Test bowlers, James Anderson is likely to slip from his one-number position after a shoulder injury has sidelined him from the Lord’s Test. As each player is docked one per cent of his points for each Test he misses, Anderson is set to drop behind India’s Ravichandaran Ashwin, whom he leads by six points.

England’s third-ranked Stuart Broad will be the highest-ranked bowler going into the first Test. He is followed by Pakistan’s wrist-spinner Yasir Shah, who is still 24 wickets away from attaining the full ranking that comes with 100 Test wickets, but has a good chance of making it to the number one position this season. Other bowlers aiming to improve their rankings include Stokes (26th), Zulfiqar Babar (28th), Moeen Ali (30th), Rahat Ali (35th), Wahab Riaz (38th) and Imran Khan (47th).

ICC Test Team Rankings

Rank Team Points
1 Australia 118
2 India 112
3 Pakistan 111
4 England 108
5 New Zealand 98
6 South Africa 92
7 Sri Lanka 85
8 West Indies 65

PERMUTATIONS

If England win 2-1 England 110 Pakistan 107
If England win 3-1 England 112 Pakistan 105
If England win 3-0 England 113 Pakistan 103
If England win 4-0 England 114 Pakistan 101
If Pakistan win 2-1 Pakistan 115 England 106
If Pakistan win 3-1 Pakistan 117 England 104
If Pakistan win 3-0 Pakistan 119 England 103
If Pakistan win 4-0 Pakistan 121 England 102

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