Azhar Ali calls on Pakistan to lift itself in ODIs

Azhar Ali, the Pakistan captain for One-Day Internationals, admitted Pakistan's ninth position in the latest ICC rankings is 'worrying' and urged his team to pull away from the slump.

Azhar Ali believes a new coach and a new selection committee will facilitate better planning for his team's success.   -  AP

Pakistan cricket captain Azhar Ali on Thursday urged his team to pick up its game after it slumped to ninth in the one-day international rankings, equalling its worst ever.

The latest International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking is "worrying", Ali told AFP - and Pakistan's prospects for improving appear bleak as it faces "challenging" top teams in coming weeks. If it cannot pull out of the slump by next year to break into the top eight, it faces having to play a qualifying round for the 2019 World Cup for the first time ever.

Pakistan was briefly ranked ninth after losing to 3-0 to Bangladesh in April last year, but managed to reach eighth before being knocked back once more in the ICC's annual international rankings released on Wednesday.

Ali was optimistic his team could rise again. "We are aware of the latest rankings, which are worrying," he said. "We know we have to beat top teams to rise in the rankings and we are quite determined to do that."

New environment

Pakistan is in search of a new coach after Waqar Younis resigned following the team's failure to reach the semifinals in the World Twenty20 in India last month.

Ali said he hoped a new coach and the recently appointed chief selector - former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq - would sit down to plan a strategy. "I think a new selection committee and a new coach will help plan things and I am optimistic that the boys will lift their performances... which we badly need."

Pakistan plays five one-day internationals in England in August, then two in Ireland before facing the West Indies for up to five matches. They it tours Australia early next year for six one-dayers. "For me, our schedule is challenging," Ali admitted.

"But we know that beating England and Australia will lift our rankings. England will be tough. We have to be at our best and the only way we can improve our rankings is to beat better and higher-ranked teams," he said.

He said his team often lets opportunities pass by in ODIs. "If you look at our series in New Zealand (in January) we should have won that, but we slipped from good positions and lost matches," he said.

Australia is at the top of the one-day rankings while England is sixth.

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