Harsha Bhogle has said that Pakistan became the top-ranked side in the game's shortest format by beating not so great teams. The Men In Green held the top spot in the game's shortest format for over a couple of years. It was the Champions Trophy 2017 winning-skipper, Sarfaraz Ahmed, under whose reign Pakistan had achieved this feat. Ahmed had led them to 11 straight T20I series wins.
“Pakistan spent a lot of time being the world number one in Twenty20 Internationals. They were helped by the fact that they played against some not so great opposition, but you can’t hold that against them. They won 11 series in a row,” said Bhogle while interacting on ICC show Cricket Inside Out.
“They had some really good players coming through. There was Fakhar Zaman at the top of the order and their core was in that middle-order, where they got eight overs some days between Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim and both of them could bat too. Plus, Shadab is a brilliant fielder, so there was a nice little side coming together,” the 'Voice of Indian Cricket' added.
The year 2018 was indeed a good one for Pak in T20I cricket. They registered an away series win against New Zeland in early January and then went on to whitewash Australia and the Black Caps once again on home soil. However, the Men In Green could not rise up to the expectations in the year 2019 in the shortest format of the game. They lost to South Africa 2-1 in an away series and then went on to lose a one-off match against England before World Cup 2019. They then suffered a humiliating whitewash against a second-string Sri Lankan side at home after which Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked from T20I and Test captaincy. They then went on to lose an away T20I series against Australia.
As the year ended, they managed a consolation T20I series win against Bangladesh at home. Nonetheless, this consolation win did not help their squad as they were dethroned by Australia in the ICC T20I Team Rankings that was released in May and slipped down to the fourth spot. Pakistan will now look to rediscover their rhythm in the upcoming bilateral series against England.
The Pakistani squad had reached England on June 28 for a bilateral series that was originally scheduled to be played from July 30 to September 2.
However, as per the revised schedule, the two teams will now lock horns in a three-match Test series that will be followed by a three-match T20I series from August 5 to September 1 as the reigning ODI world champions will be hosting Ireland in a three-match ODI series preceding the bilateral series against the Men In Green. Azhar Ali will be leading Pakistan in Tests whereas, the current top-ranked T20I batsman Babar Azam will be leading the former number one T20I side in the game's shortest format.