Ironic as it might be, India’s comprehensive 53-run win in the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand in New Delhi on Wednesday (November 1) has sent waves of delight across the border in Pakistan as it lifted them to the No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s T20I rankings.
New Zealand were perched at the top of the rankings with 125 points before the three-match series started, but Pakistan were merely a point behind. With the defeat in what was also Ashish Nehra’s farewell game, New Zealand fell to 121 points, making Pakistan the top side for the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2011.
Pakistan, fresh from a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka in a bilateral series at home, had risen to No. 1 in the Test rankings in August last year, and then too, India had a role to play when their Test against Windies in Port of Spain ended in a draw with only 22 overs possible because of rain.
Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan all-format captain, was delighted with the development. “It’s a great day and we are blessed with the No. 1 ranking,” Sarfraz told Wisden Pakistan. “It’s the hard work of the players and the management that has paid off as we are top of the rankings.”
Since Sarfraz took over as T20I captain last year, Pakistan have lost only two of their 14 matches in the format. In this period, they have beaten England 1-0, Windies 3-0 and then 3-1, the World XI team 2-1, and Sri Lanka 3-0.