Babar Azam prays after scoring a century against South Africa. File
Pakistan captain Babar Azam dethroned Indian maestro Virat Kohli after more than three years as the world's number one batsman in one-day international rankings, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old becomes the fourth Pakistani batsmen to get the top spot in ODIs and the first since Mohammad Yousuf in 2003.
"Pakistan captain Azam has ended Kohli's long reign at the top of the ICC Men's ODI player rankings," the ICC said in a statement from its Dubai headquarters.
Azam knocked 103, 32 and 94 in a three-match series in South Africa, which Pakistan won 2-1 last week.
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In Tests, Azam's best position was fifth and he is currently ranked sixth, while in T20Is he has previously been number one and now ranks third, the ICC added.
"This is another milestone in my career," Azam was quoted as saying by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
He committed to working harder and achieving consistency with the bat so he could "hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time."
"I will savour the moment, as it has come after I was first appointed the white-ball captain, and that too on the back of my performances that helped Pakistan become the first Asian side to win two ODI series in South Africa."
Babar's player of the match effort of an 82-ball 94 in Pakistan's third ODI against South Africa, which helped them win the three-match series, took his rating points to 865, eclipsing Kohli's 857 points and thus pushing the Indian captain to second place.
Babar, 26, started the series against South Africa at 837 rating points but moved up to 858 (ahead of Kohli) after his score of 103 in the first match. He dropped to 852 by the time of the last weekly rankings update with a score of 32 in the second ODI.
The Pakistan captain made his ODI debut in May 2015 and has scored 3,808 runs at an average of 56.83 in 80 matches thus far. He has 13 centuries and 17 half-centuries to his name.
Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman, meanwhile, has jumped five slots to a career-best ranking of seventh after his knock of 101 in the third ODI while left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi (up four places to a career-best 11th place) and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (up 29 places to 96th) have progressed thanks to their three-wicket hauls in the match.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said India's visit will be a big break for Pakistan cricket and added that the 2021 edition of the continental event has been shelved since neither of the two rivals could find a window.
"Virat Kohli is a good player and he has performed well against Pakistan. I have nothing against him but if Indians don't compare their players with Pakistan, then we shouldn't do that as well," he added.
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