Dubai August 28 2023 : As Pakistan attain the top spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's ODI Team rankings, we take a look back at five exceptional victories from the current rankings time period.
South Africa v Pakistan (April 2021, Centurion)
In April 2021, Centurion hosted a thriller between South Africa and Pakistan. The game had it all – Rassie van der Dussen's maiden century was overshadowed by Babar Azam's ton, a fiery Nortje spell and a thrilling final-ball finish.
Batting first, Rassie's 123* propelled South Africa to a solid total of 273/6. In reply, Pakistan, having lost Fakhar early, rebuilt through Babar and Imam's 179-run partnership.
Pakistan were cruising along before Nortje's four-over rampage, starting with Babar post his century, caused a collapse. Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan pulled the rescue act but their wickets in the death over left Pakistan needing four runs in five balls.
Andile Phehlukwayo took it till the last ball but Faheem Ashraf hit the winning runs to lead Pakistan to a special victory against South Africa.
Pakistan v Australia (March 2022, Lahore)
In 2022, Australia's tour of Pakistan marked their return to the country after 24 years. The series lived up to the hype, with an intense Test series and an equally thrilling ODI series that followed.
With Australia winning in the series opener, the hosts felt the heat in the second ODI. Australia piled on the pressure after posting a mammoth 349-run target after batting first on the back of Ben McDermott's century.
It was an all-round chasing masterclass by Pakistan in response, led by tons from Babar and Imam. Fakhar and Imam's partnership of 118 runs laid the perfect foundation for the chase and paved the way for Babar's fiery century.
Entering the crease with the requirement of 231 runs from 187 balls, Babar showcased remarkable aggressive shot-making and nearly batted through. He reached his century in a mere 73 balls, marking the quickest ODI hundred of his career.
By the time he departed in the 45th over, Pakistan had the win in their sights and romped home with an over to spare.
Pakistan v West Indies (June 2022, Multan)
In the opening ODI against West Indies, Pakistan almost made a meal of a straightforward chase but were rescued by the fireworks from Khushdil Shah.
Shai Hope's 127 helped West Indies put on 305 runs on board after batting first. After losing Fakhar in the Powerplay, Imam and Babar strung together a century stand. That was followed by yet another 100-run partnership between Babar and Rizwan.
Pakistan needed 86 in the last 10 overs with eight wickets in hand. Babar reached his century but was back in the pavilion the very next over. Rizwan too followed his captain back, leaving Pakistan to get 44 in the last four overs.
In the end, Khushdil Shah produced a gem of a cameo that included three consecutive sixes off Romario Shepherd in the 47th over. Khushdil remained unbeaten on 43 off just 21 balls as Pakistan sealed a thrilling final-over contest with four balls to spare.
Netherlands v Pakistan (August 2022, Rotterdam)
Twice in the three-match series, Netherlands pushed Pakistan to their limits but both times, Babar Azam's men showcased why they are such a superior ODI unit.
Netherlands had their best opportunity to defeat Pakistan in the final ODI, limiting them to 206 runs after batting first. The scorecard would have read much worse without Babar's patient 91 which helped Pakistan post a respectable total.
Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim impressed with three early wickets between themselves in 15 overs. Vikramjit Singh and Tom Cooper's fifties sustained the Dutch chase, but at the same time, the pace-bowling duo maintained their wicket-taking momentum.
With the scoreboard at 119/5 in 33 overs, a promising 56-run partnership for the sixth wicket by Copper and Teja Nidamanuru offered hope to the Netherlands. However, their prospects dimmed as both well-set batsmen departed in successive overs.
Scoring 31 off the last four overs with only three wickets in hand proved too much for the hosts as they slipped to a nine-run loss. Naseem recorded his maiden five-wicket haul in the game and was well supported by Wasim's four-for.
Afghanistan v Pakistan (August 2023, Hambantota)
Afghanistan came close to beating Pakistan for the first time in ODIs but Naseem Shah once again proved to be their nemesis with the bat in a final-over thriller.
After being bowled out for just 59 in the first ODI, Afghanistan rallied back and posted 300/5, courtesy of Rahmanullah Gurbaz's run-a-ball 151.
Pakistan were well on track to chase 301 with relative ease when Imam and Babar were at the crease. However, the fall of the skipper triggered a mini-collapse before Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed held the fort.
The last two overs had one twist after another – Shadab scored two crucial boundaries off the last two balls of the penultimate over before he was run out at the non-striker's end while backing up by Fazalhaq Farooqi off the first ball of the final over.
Needing 11 off the last over with one wicket in hand, Naseem did a repeat of the Asia Cup from last year by guiding Pakistan to a win against all odds with a ball and a wicket to spare.