Sports: Cricket: Babar Azam grabs top T20 spot

Karachi: Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has topped the ICC Player Rankings for T20I for Batsmen following the conclusion of the three-match series against host New Zealand, which Pakistan won 2-1.

Babar was rewarded for finishing as the leading run-scorer in the series (109 runs) with a rise of 11 places that has put him on top for the first time. He now leads Australia’s Aaron Finch (784 points) by two points.

Babar is the second Pakistan batsman to top the T20I rankings after Misbah-ul-Haq, who had climbed to number-one spot in 2009.

New Zealand’s Colin Munro, who had started the series in number-one position, has slipped to fourth after scoring 50 runs in the two matches he played.

But captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Fakhar Zaman are the biggest movers in the latest rankings. Sarfraz’s series contribution of 79 runs has lifted him from 76th position to 55th, while Fakhar has claimed the 71st spot after rising 41 places following his series aggregate of 99 runs.

Pakistan’s Ahmed Shehzad has moved up two places to 25th and is his side’s second highest-ranked batsman in the shortest format.

In the bowlers’ table, New Zealander Mitchell Santner has replaced team-mate Ish Sodhi as the top-ranked bowler. The left-arm spinner picked up four wickets and now leads Afghanistan’s number-two ranked spinner Rashid Khan by one point.

Sodhi has dropped two places to third, six points behind Santner, after managing two wickets in the series.

Santner is the fourth New Zealand bowler after Daniel Vettori, Shane Bond and Sodhi to claim the coveted number-one position.

Pakistan’s Shadab Khan, who was the most successful bowler in the series with five wickets, has rocketed 28 places to 14th spot, while fast bowler Mohammad Amir has also made an impressive gain of 19 places and now sits in 27th position after bagging three wickets.

Other significant movers include Tim Southee (53rd, up by 17 places), Rumman Raees (92nd, up by 33 places) and Faheem Ashraf (102nd, up by 31 places).

There is no change in the all-rounders’ list, which is still headed by Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh, with Glenn Maxwell of Australia in second spot.