Pakistan eye valuable World Cup points in UK

After featuring in one of the most thrilling and competitive Test series in recent times, Pakistan shift their focus to white ball cricket when they play Ireland in Dublin on 18 and 20 August, and then England in a five-ODI series from 24 August to 4 September.

Up for grabs for ninth-ranked Pakistan are invaluable rankings points, which can potentially go a long way in helping them qualify automatically for the World Cup in 2019, while Ireland can improve thier ranking of 12th and England can consolidate their fifth position.

The 1992 world champions are presently languishing on 87 points – seven points behind eighth-ranked West Indies.

Host England and the seven highest-ranked sides on the ICC ODI rankings as on 30 September 2017 will qualify directly for the ICC’s pinnacle 50-over tournament.

This means Pakistan find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford any further slip-ups if they are keen to avoid having to play in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2018.

In the forthcoming matches, Pakistan not only have a chance to close the gap with the West Indies but can move ahead of the two-time former world champion by a fraction of a point. However, to make this happen, they will have to win every match against Ireland and England.

The four bottom-ranked sides on the ODI table will be joined by six teams from the ICC World Cricket League Championship and ICC World Cricket League in the 10-team qualifying competition. The top two side will complete the 10-team line-up for the event proper to be staged from 30 May to 15 July 2019.

The incentive for 12th-ranked Ireland in the upcoming series is massive as well.

If they win both the matches against Pakistan, they will leapfrog Zimbabwe and Afghanistan into 10th position on 53 points, while Pakistan will plummet to 83 points.

A 1-all draw will mean Ireland will move ahead of Zimbabwe in 11th position on 48 points, while Pakistan will drop to 85 points.

The only way Pakistan can stay on 87 points is by winning both the matches and this is because they enter the series leading Ireland by 44 points, and because the rankings are weighted to reflect this difference, they are expected to win the series convincingly.

If England beat Pakistan and Sri Lanka defeat Australia by identical 5-0 margins, then England will finish on 109 points, Sri Lanka on 108 points while Australia will retain their number-one position, though their 10-point advantage over second-ranked New Zealand will be reduced to just two points.

On the other side of the coin, if Australia win all the five matches of the series, then they will rise to 126 points (up by three points), while Sri Lanka will slip to 99 points (down by three points).

Meanwhile, England’s Joe Root and Australia’s Mitchell Starc will start as the highest-ranked batsman and bowler, respectively, in the upcoming matches.

Root is in seventh position at 741 points in a list which is headed by AB de Villiers of South Africa with 887 points. Tillakaratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka (10th), Australia’s David Warner (12th), Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez (23rd) and Ireland’s Ed Joyce (24th) are expected to start as their countries’ highest-ranked batsmen.

Apart from Starc, Australia also boast Josh Hazlewood inside the top 20 while 15th-ranked Moeen Ali is England’s highest-ranked bowler to challenge Pakistan, which boasts Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah just outside the top 50 in 53rd and 57th positions respectively.

The bowlers’ list is headed by the West Indies’ Sunil Narine, with Trent Boult of New Zealand second and Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh third.

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