Crucial WTC, players' ranking points in offing in England-Pakistan series
Dubai, Aug 3: England and Pakistan cricketers will be eager to improve their rankings when the two teams clash in a series involving three Tests starting Wednesday at Old Trafford in Manchester.
In the World Test Championship (WTC) points table, England moved up to third position following a 2-1 series win over West Indies recently. The hosts have a chance to leapfrog Australia to second place, while Pakistan can overtake New Zealand to fourth position.
As for the players, skipper Azhar Ali and vice-captain Babar Azam will be among the players in focus for Pakistan and they will be up against the likes of Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, who made massive gains in the rankings following their impressive performances recently.
Azhar, presently 27th among batsmen, will be hoping to regain the form that lifted him to sixth in December 2016, while Babr will be hoping to progress from a career-best aggregate of 800 rating points. Babar is currently sixth after having occupied a career-high fifth place in February.
Fast bowler Mohammad Abbas (13th) and experienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah (24th), who have in the past, been ranked third and first, respectively, and left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi (32nd) are other Pakistan players to watch.
For England, Stokes displaced West Indies captain Jason Holder from the top of the all-rounders' list during their last series and formerly top-ranked Broad rose to third position in the bowlers' list, currently led by Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins.
Stokes is also England's top-ranked batsman in fourth position, with captain Joe Root (ninth) and opener Rory Burns (17th) their next batsmen on the list.