Pakistan have risen to No. 1 in the ICC’s Test rankings for the first time. They took the top position from India, following India’s washed out Test against West Indies in Trinidad.
Pakistan had moved to No. 2 on the table last week, after drawing the Test series in England 2-2 and after Australia were whitewashed 3-0in Sri Lanka. At the same time, India had moved to No. 1 after beating West Indies in theSt Lucia Test to go 2-0 up in their four-match series; they needed to win the final Test, in Trinidad, to hold on to No. 1, but the match was drawn after weather and outfield issuesforced play to be abandoned over four days.
Last week was the second time in less than a year that Pakistan had moved to No. 2 on the rankings – the highest they had previously been since the current rankings system was put in place in 2003. They had featured at No. 2 for the first time in November 2015, after beating England 2-0 in the UAE.
Their rise to No. 1 was built on the back of a run of unbeaten Test series since August 2014, when they were down at No. 6. Apart from the successes against England, they had also beaten Sri Lanka 2-1 in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh 1-0 in Bangladesh, and whitewashed Australia 2-0 in the UAE. Against New Zealand in the UAE in November 2014, the series during which Phillip Hughes died in Sydney, they had drawn 1-1.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said he was “proud” to have his team at the top, but his focus remained on delivering consistently good performances going forward. “There is no greater feeling than to achieve the No. 1 ranking in the most traditional and purest format of the sport,” Misbah said. “This is what cricketers play for and want to achieve in their careers. It is a reward for something we had planned as a group a few years ago and have worked extremely hard to achieve it.
“I want to compliment everyone who has been involved in the process, including all the players, the support personnel, the management, as well as our loyal fans and followers who remained committed to us and continued to back and support the side through the good and not-so-good days.
“For us, the No. 1 ranking is not a destination but part of a journey. Our long-term objective and strategy is to remain competitive, continue to challenge the top sides with good cricket and once again become the most followed side like the Pakistan teams of yesteryears.”
PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, much like former coach Waqar Younis, said credit for Pakistan’s achievement should go to Misbah. “The ascension to the top of the ICC Test rankings culminates an incredible journey for Pakistan,” Khan said. “This is a historic moment in our rich Test cricket history and the credit for this great achievement goes not only to this team but to all… coaches and support staff members who have represented Pakistan in recent years. Misbah-ul-Haq deserves special credit for his leadership through six crucial years.”
The No. 1 rank has changed hands several times in 2016. In January, India took over from South Africa after South Africa were defeated 0-2 by England at home. In February, Australia climbedto No. 1 following their 2-0 win in New Zealand. They gave No. 1 back to India following their recent 0-3 loss in Sri Lanka, and then came India’s handover to Pakistan.
The ICC’s ranking system takes into account matches played over the previous four years, with the oldest matches in the cycle being dropped every May. For the current cycle, matches played from May 2013 to April 2015 carry 50% weightage, while matches played since then carry 100% weightage. In May 2017, matches played between May 2013 and April 2014 will be dropped from the calculations.
The ICC Test table
1 Pakistan (111 rating points)
2 India (110)
3 Australia (108)
4 England (108)
5 New Zealand (99)
6 Sri Lanka (95)
7 South Africa (92)
8 West Indies (67)
9 Bangladesh (57)
10 Zimbabwe (8)