After sweeping the three-match series against Afghanistan with a dominant 59-run win in the last ODI played in Colombo on Saturday, Pakistan climbed to the top of the ODI standings.
Pakistan has only ever reached the top of the ODI rankings twice, the first time was when they defeated New Zealand 4-1 in a five-match home series last May. But at that time, their stay there was brief—just two days.
Pakistan had already won the series, which was being played as part of the lead-up to the 2018 Asia Cup, after winning the first two games — a convincing 142-run triumph in the first game and an exciting one-wicket win in the second ODI.
Pakistan chose to bat and scored a respectable 268 for 8 due to fifty-plus scores from captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as well as a cameo from Mohammad Nawaz further down the order.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman of Afghanistan scored a career-best 64 off only 37 deliveries to help Afghanistan reach the mark, but it only served to narrow the margin of loss as the team ultimately collapsed to 209 all out in 49.4 overs, paying the price for a shaky start.
The game could not be turned around despite Mujeeb’s late blitz, during which he broke five boundaries and as many maximums. Afghanistan found themselves in a dangerous 97 for seven just 32.1 overs after losing wickets in bunches at the top.
Mujeeb put up stands of 57 and 45 runs with Shahidullah and Fareed Ahmed, respectively, to keep the game close just when a crushing loss seemed to be on the horizon.
When Mujeeb attempted to flick a Shaheen Shah Afridi ball on the back foot and ended up striking the stumps with his legs, he was out in the 46th over.
Prior to Nawaz’s 25-ball 30 and Agha Salman’s unbeaten 38 off 31, Pakistan’s most reliable opening pair of Babar (60 off 86) and Rizwan (67 off 79) put up a 110-run third-wicket partnership to help the team to a respectable total.