India pacer Jasprit Bumrah will look to maintain his top position in the ICC ODI bowlers ranking during the Asia Cup which begins here on Saturday.
“The Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates is going to be huge and I’m really looking forward to doing my best here,” Bumrah said.
“Being at the top of the ICC rankings is a matter of great pride for me. We will be playing against some leading players and I know the conditions can be challenging but I’m hoping to be at my best.”
Several leading players, including Bumrah, will go into the Asia Cup aiming to consolidate their positions ICC rankings and also use the multi-nation tournament to prepare for next year’s Cricket World Cup.
While Bumrah, who has a lead of 20 points over Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, will hope to continue to hold on to his numero uno status, spinners Kuldeep Yadav (sixth) and Yuzvendra Chahal (joint-ninth) too will look to consolidate position in the top 10.
Pakistan’s Hasan Ali is also looking to claw his way back two spots to number one in the bowlers ranking.
The Asia Cup commences with a match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Dubai on Saturday.
Among batsmen, Pakistan’s Babar will also look to bridge the big gap with Virat Kohli, who is not playing in this tournament.
“We as a team are looking forward to the Asia Cup and I have some extra incentive in my individual ranking,” second-ranked batsman Babar said.
“I know Virat is way ahead in terms of rating points but this is definitely a chance to consolidate my position at number two and gain some valuable ranking points.”
Bangladesh’s Shakib will also aim to be at his best and show everyone why he is top-ranked among all-rounders.
Several openers who figure prominently in the rankings will be seen in action during the Asia Cup, including the India pair of Rohit Sharma (fourth) and Shikhar Dhawan (ninth), Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal (12th) and Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman (16th).
With five of the six teams in the Asia Cup to feature in next year’s World Cup, the likes of Bumrah, Shakib and Babar are excited at the prospect of being pitted against the best of the region in the September 15-28 tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
Afghanistan, qualifiers Hong Kong, India and Pakistan get into action later as they try to qualify for the Super Four stage and get more tournament practice with just eight months to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
In the ICC ODI Team Rankings, India are the top-ranked side in the tournament. They are presently second with 121 points, six points behind England, while Pakistan are in fifth position and 104 points.
India, Pakistan and Hong Kong are in Group A while Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka form Group B for the preliminary stage. The top two teams from each group will advance to the Super Fours with the top two sides from there making the final.