Babar’s closest challengers for top ranking set for showdown at Asia Cup

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 The closest challengers to Babar Azam at the top of the ODI Batting Rankings will get ample opportunity to make ground on the Pakistan captain when the Asia Cup gets underway on Wednesday.

While Babar holds a commanding advantage at the head of proceedings with 877 rating points after the ICC updated the weekly rankings list, a pair of his Pakistan teammates and a trio of Indian rivals will be in action at the Asia Cup and will be aiming to cut into his massive lead.

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq (748 rating points) rises four rating points on the latest update and maintains third place on the ODI batter rankings behind second-placed Rassie van der Dussen

(777), while teammate Fakhar Zaman is in fifth place with 732 rating points.

Splitting the duo is the highest rated India batter in Shubman Gill (743 rating points), while more experienced compatriots Virat Kohli (705) and Rohit Sharma (693) are also inside the top 11

players on the rankings, an ICC report said.

There were a handful of players from Pakistan and Afghanistan that made ground on the rankings this week following the completion of their exciting three-game series, with in-form opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz the major benefactor after he scored his fifth ODI century in Hambantota.

Gurbaz smashed a brilliant 151 at a run-a-ball and was rewarded by jumping 16 places to 30th on

the list for ODI batters, with teammate and fellow opener Ibrahim Zadran now the only player from Afghanistan in front of the classy right-hander in 19th place.

Pakistan’s bevy of stars did not miss out completely as they clinched a 3-0 series whitewash to claim the No.1 team ranking from Australia, with star all-rounder Shadab Khan the biggest mover.

Shadab scored 90 runs and collected four wickets during the series against Afghanistan and moved up three places to 49th on the bowler rankings and another three spots to 11th on the list for all-rounders as a result.

Josh Hazlewood maintains his place at the top of the ODI bowler rankings, but up to five players inside the top 10 will be in action at the Asia Cup that will look to make ground on the Australia seamer and second-placed teammate Mitchell Starc.

Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is the highest-ranked bowler in action at the Asia Cup with 671 rating points and 34 points in arrears of Hazlewood, while teammate Rashid Khan (equal fourth), India pacer Mohammed Siraj (equal fourth), Pakistan pace spearhead Shaheen Afridi (ninth) and fellow tweaker Kuldeep Yadav (10th) are also sitting inside the top 10.

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