Pakistan in Test rankings boost ahead of one-day series with England

August 23, 2016

Pakistan have been boosted ahead of the five-match one-day international series with England starting at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow (August 24th) with news that they have become the top-ranked Test team for the first time.

They were one of four sides who could have been holding the title now, depending on the results of three Test series taking place this month, with England also in the frame.

However, Pakistan's win at the Kia Oval to draw the series 2-2 meant they stayed ahead of England, and with Australia losing 3-0 in Sri Lanka to relinquish top spot, the remaining question was whether India could secure a 3-0 win the four-Test series against the West Indies in the Caribbean.

India had stayed in the running by winning the third Test to go 2-0 up, but the fourth Test at Port of Spain ended in a soggy draw, with the West Indies on 62-2 for four days before the match was consigned to a watery grave.

The news came as a huge boost to a Pakistan team that has had to play its home matches in the UAE for security reasons in recent years.

Looking ahead, team captain Misbah-ul-Haq said: "For us, the number one ranking is not a destination but part of a journey."

The next part of that journey will be the limited-overs matches, with the super series between the two countries tied after the Tests, meaning the two points on offer for each of the one-day internationals and the Twenty20 at Old Trafford next month will be decisive.

Moreover, the two sides will meet again early next summer for a three-match one-day series before the Champions Trophy, for which fans can now book corporate hospitality at Edgbaston and the Kia Oval.

Following the opening match at the Ageas Bowl, the sides will meet at Lord's (August 27th), Trent Bridge (August 30th), Headingley on September 1st and finally at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff on September 4th.

David Willey will miss the opening match for England after injuring his hand as Northamptonshire won the NatWest T20 Blast trophy last Saturday, and his joy at being part of a winning team will have been increased by news that x-rays showed no fracture. He is expected to return to the side for Lord's.

The series will include a new innovation, with the third umpire being used to judge on front-foot no-balls. The idea arose as footage has shown a large number of no-balls going unseen in Test matches, with only the mandatory checks when wickets have fallen revealing some of them. The fact that these deliveries have been penalised and not others has led to suggestions that technology should be used to help, not least in limited-over games where umpires prefer to stand back further for safety reasons, due to batsmen being more likely to hit the ball hard and in the air.

It may mean more no-balls being called, which in turn will lead to an increase in free hits and more chances for a batsman to have a risk-free attempt at whacking a four or six.

By Sam Coates

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