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ICC rankings – Babar Azam displaces Virat Kohli to become No. 1 ODI batsman

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Becomes only fourth Pakistan player to attain top ranking, after Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf

Pakistan captain Babar Azam is now the No.1-ranked ODI batsman, ending India captain Virat Kohli‘s long reign at the top of the charts. Babar’s match-winning 82-ball 94 in the third ODI against South Africa helped him gain 13 rating points to reach career-best 865 points.

Azam made a total of 228 runs in Pakistan’s famous series win against South Africa, including a century in the first match in Centurion. That helped him move ahead of Kohli – who has been No. 1 since displacing AB de Villiers in October 2017 – by a point, but he dropped to 852 after his score of 31 in the second ODI and remained at No. 2 by the time of the last weekly rankings update. After his knock in the third ODI, he gained eight more than Kohli, to became just the fourth Pakistan batsman to attain the top ranking after Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003).

“This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time,” Azam said.

“I feel privileged and honoured to have joined the company of stalwarts like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf, who will always be the shining stars of Pakistan cricket. I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman’s calibre, reputation and skills.”

Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman also made a jump in
the rankings, moving five positions up to achieve a career-best seventh position after his knocks of 193 and 101 in the second and third ODI respectively. Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, who picked up six wickets in the three matches, rose four spots to a career-best 11th place.



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After IPL 2021 postponement, UAE becomes realistic contender for T20 World Cup in October-November 2021

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IPL 2021 was meant to be a test case for the BCCI to understand if the T20 World Cup could’ve been held in a ‘caravan model’

Will the postponement of the IPL have an impact on the 2021 men’s T20 World Cup, scheduled in India later this year?

It is clearly too early to say as the fallout from the postponement of the IPL is yet to settle, after the number of cases inside the bubble began to rise over the last few days. But ESPNcricinfo understands that while the ICC continues to monitor the situation in India, the UAE, which has been slotted in as a back-up venue, is now becoming a more realistic contender to host the global tournament.

As it stands, the T20 World Cup, comprising 16 countries, is scheduled to be played in India between late October with the final on November 14.

The BCCI recently shortlisted nine venues in India, which were proposed to the ICC, the host for global tournaments. An ICC team of experts from the biosafety, events and security wings was scheduled to visit India from April 26 to do an inspection of the venues but was forced to shelve that plan due to the travel ban imposed by the UAE to and from India.



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PCB launches parental support policy for all cricketers

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Women cricketers will get up to 12 months of paid leave, while male cricketers can get up to 30 days’ leave

The PCB has launched a parental support policy, which will allow players – women and men – to get paid leave during periods of pregnancy and upon the birth of a child. Women will get up to 12 months of paid leave, with men allowed 30 days. All players can benefit from the scheme immediately, and it will start with Bismah Maroof, who recently took an indefinite break to prepare for motherhood.

“The PCB has a duty of care towards its cricketers and, at every turn, it has taken measures to support them,” Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive officer, said. “In this relation, it is appropriate that we have a player-friendly parental support policy so that our professional cricketers can feel fully supported during an important stage in their lives, without worrying about their careers.

“To have this policy for our women cricketers was even more significant. Women play a pivotal role in the development of society and our women cricketers have brought us laurels and recognition on the world stage. Now that we have a maternity leave policy, I am hopeful that it will attract more women and girls to take up the sport as this will help them strike a crucial work-life balance.”

The PCB’s central contracts don’t have any specific clauses covering parental leave. But the Maroof example has encouraged the PCB to look for an opportunity to review the contract clauses, making it more progressive. The term of the present annual contracts, for both men and women, ends in two months but the policy stands effective for any contracted player.

Apart from the paid leave, contracted women cricketers are guaranteed contract extension for the following year even after 12 months away. For men, the one-month leave has to be availed within the first 56 days of the birth of the child.

Women’s cricket took off properly in an organised fashion in Pakistan in the late 1990s. But several women cricketers have left the game after marrying or having children. There are exceptions. Batool Fatima became a coach, while Nain Abidi did play after getting married in 2017. Asmavia Iqbal retired from her playing career after marriage and took up a role as a selector. The new policy hopes to prolong women’s cricketing careers with the flexibility offered following the birth of children.

Key features of the policy

  • Women cricketers to transfer to a non-playing role until the commencement of their maternity leave leading up to the birth of their child
  • Women cricketers are entitled to take up to 12 months of paid maternity leave and will be guaranteed a contract extension for the following year, in line with their existing contractual arrangements
  • Upon conclusion of the maternity leave, the player will be reintegrated into cricketing activities and provided adequate medical and physical support in respect of their post-childbirth rehabilitation
  • If a woman player is required to travel for cricketing activities, the PCB will support the player by allowing her to travel with a support person of her choice to assist in caring for her infant child, with the travel and accommodation costs to be shared equally
  • Upon conclusion of the maternity leave, the player will be reintegrated into cricketing activities and provided adequate medical and physical support in respect of their post-childbirth rehabilitation

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent



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IPL 2021 – Australian players set for exodus to Maldives after postponement of IPL

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There are close to 40 Australians in the IPL bubble comprising players, coaching staff and commentators

A mass exodus of Australian players, coaches and support staff to the Maldives is the expected remedy to a dilemma created by the postponement of the 2021 IPL and the current closure of the Australian border to citizens currently in India during its rampant Covid-19 outbreak. There are close to 40 Australians in the IPL bubble comprising players, coaching staff and commentators.

The likes of Pat Cummins, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Ricky Ponting, Simon Katich and company are expected to join the commentator Michael Slater, who had already headed to the Maldives as a temporary post in the wake of blanket bans on entry to Australian citizens who have recently been in India, a state of play that will exist until at least May 15.

The exceptions will be the likes of allrounder Dan Christian, who has a deal to play in the UK later this year. But the UK is currently allowing only its citizens and residents to fly in from India, so it remains to be seen what route he will take as Dubai – often a stopover between India and the UK – is not allowing flights from India either.



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