England's Dawid Malan has replaced Babar Azam as the world's best T20 batsman in the ICC's latest T20 rankings.

Malan, who remains without a central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board, was fifth in the previous standings but scored a series-leading 129 runs across the three encounters with Australia.

Having amassed a combined 108 in the first two T20s, Malan had a higher average than Virat Kohli - the highest T20 ranked batsman of all time - though his average has slipped to 48.71 from his 16 internationals after he was out for 21 on Tuesday.

His previous highest place in the rankings was second last year but Malan has now gone ahead of Pakistan captain Babar by eight points.

Babar, Australia captain Aaron Finch, India's KL Rahul and New Zealand's Colin Munro make up the rest of the top five.

Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan remains the top-ranked T20 bowler, though England's leg spinner Adil Rashid has moved up two spots to seventh in a top 10 that features just one seamer - Australia's Kane Richardson in 10th.

There was no change at the top of the all-rounder rankings either, with Rashid's international team-mate Mohammad Nabi remaining ahead of Australia's Glenn Maxwell, who moved up to second above Zimbabwe's Sean Williams.

Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan struck brilliant half-centuries as England made their highest Twenty20 International total against Pakistan to win a thriller by five wickets and take a 1-0 series lead.

Mohammad Hafeez (69 off 34 balls) and Babar Azam (56 from 44) took Pakistan up to an imposing 195-4 in the second match of the series at Old Trafford, two days after the opener was abandoned due to rain.

Jonny Bairstow laid the platform for England with a rapid 44, but they were 66-2 in the seventh over with Shadab Khan on a hat-trick after dismissing the wicketkeeper-batsman and Tom Banton.

Morgan blasted 66 off 33 balls in a third-wicked stand of 112 with Malan (54 not out), who hit the winning runs off the first ball of the last over to complete their third-highest successful T20 chase.

Babar and Fakhar Zaman (36) got the tourists off to a flyer after Morgan put them in, but Adil Rashid (2-32) ended an opening stand of 72 in the ninth over when the left-hander was taken by Banton.

The captain crunched Rashid for his seventh boundary wide of extra cover to reach a 37-ball half-century and Hafeez reached 2,000 T20I runs landmark by hooking Mahmood over the ropes.

Babar fell tamely to Rashid, but Hafeez took centre stage, imperiously launching Tom Curran for two sixes in a 16th over that cost 23 before departing in the last over of a brilliant innings for Pakistan.

Bairstow struck two sixes as England raced to 50 off 29 balls in a great start to the run chase, but his swashbuckling 24-ball knock ended when he top-edged Shadab to Imad Wasim.

Banton (20) was trapped in front off the next ball and Morgan survived a big lbw later in that brilliant over, an umpire's call verdict that Pakistan were left to rue along with the loss of Mohammad Amir to a hamstring injury.

Morgan and Malan cashed in on a great track to take England well on their way to victory, the captain facing just 27 balls to make his 13th T20I half-century.

The powerful Morgan cleared the ropes four times and although he was sent on his way by Haris Rauf in the 17th over, the composed Malan sealed it with a four after Sam Billings put England on the verge of victory with a couple of sublime boundaries.

 

Hafeez makes up for lost time, more brilliance from Babar 

All-rounder Hafeez had not batted in a competitive match since featuring in the Pakistan Super League in March, but the veteran made up for lost time.

Hafeez turns 40 in October, but showed he has plenty of cricket left in him yet as he took the England attack to all parts, including drives and swats down the ground for four as he made a 12th T20 half-century for his country.

Babar timed the ball majestically from the start, showing how he rose to the top of the rankings in another high quality innings after making two half-centuries in the Test series loss to England.

 

Morgan and Malan masterclass

England needed a rebuilt when Shadab saw the back of both openers with, Banton - who scored a blistering half-century on Friday - foxed by a top spinner to follow Bairstow into the pavilion.

Experienced left-handers Morgan and Malan showed they were just the men for the job, the skipper taking the role of chief aggressor with some stunning clean striking.

Malan showed what great touch he is in when he creamed Shaheen Afridi for a sixth four of a classy knock to give England a series lead with one match to play at the same venue on Tuesday.

 Shoaib Malik, Kevin Pietersen, and Babar Azam were all given the axe as the SportsMax Zone panel and Zone team homed in on the Ultimate XI T20 batsmen 3-5.

After much heated debate, two legendary Indian players Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni were selected alongside South African smasherAB de Villiers as the players to go forward.  The specialist included cricket analyst Kerry Scott, regional umpire Chris Taylor and sports columnist Zaheer Clarke.

For the most part, Kohli and de Villers were universal picks with the battle for the third spot coming down to Dhoni and Pietersen.  Taylor tried to make the case for Pietersen, pointing to a strike rate of 141.51 and an average of 37.93 in T20 international cricket.  He found no support, however, from either his fellow panelist or the Zone team, with exception of Lance Whittaker who was the lone voice joining him in his quest to advance the case of the South African-born Englishman.  Some of the issues presented, in the case again Pietersen, stemmed from what was described as his overall lack of consistency, as compared to the others on the list.

Fans, called Fanalysts have a 30% weighted vote on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team, with the SportsMax Zone having another 30% of the vote. The panel of experts’ vote will count for 40% of the overall votes.

Fanlysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

Today the team will turn its attention to sorting through the list of quality bowlers.

 

There was no place for Marlon Samuels in SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 batsmen 3-5 after a panel of experts dumped the allrounder from a shortlist of 14 on the SportsMax Zone earlier today.

The panel consisting of David Brook, cricket commentator and reporter, Sachin Ramsuhbag, cricket commentator, and Chris Taylor, commentator and cricket umpire, felt Samuels, though a proven match winner, did not stack up with the consistency of some of the other batsmen in the list.

The panel also felt that Samuels’ strike rate (117.93) over the course of 187 games was not high enough, when compared to others in the list.

That list reads a veritable who’s who in the T20 game, with India’s Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers; West Indies’ Samuels; England’s Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, and Joe Root; Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik; Australia’s Glenn Maxwell; Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara; and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson all getting the nod.

From that list, du Plessis, Samuels, Morgan, Duminy, Sangakkara, Maxwell, Williamson and Root have all been cut.

That means Kohli, Pietersen, Babar, Shoaib, de Villiers and Dhoni are the men who will vie for three places, from the number-three to the number five positions in the batting line-up when another panel of experts makes a judgement on the SportsMax Zone tomorrow.

While voting fans, Fanalysts, just pick a final XI, if they were to pick a group for a final discussion, it might look a little different from the one the panel picked.

So far, the fans have favoured Kohli, de Villiers, Dhoni, Maxwell, Pietersen, and there is a toss-up between Samuels and Sangakkara for the sixth position.

For the fans, neither Babar nor Shoaib factor in their all-time XI.

Fans, called Fanalysts have a 30% weighted vote on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI T20 team, with the SportsMax Zone having another 30% of the vote. The panel of experts’ vote will count for 40% of the overall votes.

Fanlysts can vote by clicking here or going to SportsMax.tv and just clicking on the Ultimate XI tab at the top of the screen.

SportsMax.tv has also built a list of profiles where Fanalysts can go to have a look at the careers of the players who have made the SportsMax Ultimate XI shortlist just in case you want to learn a little more about them before making your choice. To take a look at those players click here.

Babar Azam made a classy unbeaten half-century and Shan Masood was given two lives by Jos Buttler as Pakistan had the better of a weather-hit opening day in the Test series with England. 

The tourists were 43-2 at one stage after Abid Ali and Azhar Ali, who had opted to bat after winning the toss, were dismissed by Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes respectively at Old Trafford. 

However, Babar then took centre stage with a majestic 69 not out, while Masood was still there on 46 as Pakistan reached 139-2 when play was abandoned due to bad light. 

Buttler dropped Masood on 45 and the opener was still on the same score when the England wicketkeeper-batsman missed a chance to stump him during a day when just 49 overs were bowled. 

England, unchanged following their series-clinching win over West Indies at the same venue, were below par, Babar in particular making them pay in what is Pakistan's first Test since February. 

Masood and Abid came through probing new-ball spells from James Anderson and the in-form Stuart Broad, but the excellent Archer struck with the first ball of his second over. 

Abid was the man to depart, paceman Archer rocking back his off stump with a delivery that nipped in to end an opening stand of 36. Azhar soon followed lbw to Woakes, the visiting captain also wasting a review. 

Babar and Masood steadied the ship in contrasting fashion, the opener continuing to dig in as Pakistan's white-ball skipper played with greater fluency after lunch. 

The elegant Babar showed great timing with glorious drives, racing to his 50 off 70 balls, though Masood had a stroke of luck when he nicked Dom Bess behind but Buttler failed to hold on. 

An early tea was taken due to rain with Pakistan on 121-2 and there was further frustration for England in a short resumption, Buttler unable to stump an advancing Masood off Bess, with Joe Root forced to bowl himself due to the poor overhead conditions. 

When Pakistan were previously in England for a Test series, Babar Azam saw a promising start cut short by a bad break.  

The batsman made a half-century in the opening game at Lord’s in May 2018, but his involvement in the series was painfully cut short when struck on the left arm by a Ben Stokes short ball.  

Forced to retire hurt with 68 to his name, Babar did not appear again during the tour. A fracture ended his contribution as the tourists triumphed at the home of cricket, while he had to watch on as his side were crushed in the second Test at Headingley. 

At that stage of his career, Babar was viewed as a limited-overs specialist still making his way in the Test arena. With an average under 25 prior to playing England, he was – at the age of 23 – a player with obvious potential working out how to play the game of patience.

Just over two years on, he returns to England having enhanced his reputation to such an extent that the so-called 'Fab Four' - Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson - have company. It is unclear who identifies as the cricketing versions of Paul, John, Ringo and George, but Babar is not like the fifth Beatle – his identity is clear.

Start a discussion with cricket fans over who should be considered the lead act in the group and you are opening a cricketing can of worms. It is a topic that, understandably, stirs up national pride, but also heated discussions about the weight of importance given to each format. 

What is not up for debate, however, is that Babar deserves to be in the conversation. His white-ball numbers are outstanding – he averages over 50 in Twenty20 and one-dayers for Pakistan – yet his Test statistics in recent times provide additional evidence for those keen to argue his case.  

Indeed, his average of 75.9 across his 12 Test knocks since the start of 2019 is the best rate of any batsman to have 10 or more innings during that period. Better than Kohli, despite the India captain piling on the runs at home against South Africa, including a career-best 254 not out. Better even than Smith, whose Ashes heroics last year were so crucial in helping Australia retain the urn on English soil.  

He also sits above the same pairing when it comes to contributing for his team, providing an astonishing 22 per cent of Pakistan’s total Test runs over the period. There is clearly substance to the style now, a determined streak to go with the eye-catching technique.  

Ricky Ponting, the former Australia captain, tipped Babar to become one of the best in the world at the start of the year; he was a little late to get on board a bandwagon that now offers standing room only. 

"I think he is right up there already," Azhar Ali, Pakistan's Test skipper, said on the eve of the series opener with England at Old Trafford. 

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly, he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player, but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.” 

Babar's career totals do not stand up to the sheer volume scored by Kohli, Root, Smith and Williamson - at least not yet. Still, since 2018, he sits above the quartet in terms of Test average (65.5) and strike-rate (63.2 runs per 100 deliveries).

That stretch includes a memorable maiden hundred on home soil. While rain ruined the spectacle of the first Test played in Pakistan for over a decade, Babar brightened up the final day against Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi with an unbeaten 102 that delighted the crowd who had patiently waited to see their team return.  

Scores of 60 not out, 100 and 143 followed in the remainder of a truncated series, all from a player who did not reach three figures until his 17th Test. 

Prior to that breakthrough innings against New Zealand in November 2018, Babar had managed an unspectacular 822 runs at 30.4. Since then, though, there have been four more three-figure scores in 10 games, plus a 97 in a losing cause against Australia in Adelaide when no colleagues were willing to stick around in support. 

Pakistan are likely to lean on him heavily again in England, particularly as they come up against a team brimming with fast-bowling options and fresh off a 2-1 series victory over West Indies. 

Babar's development - including a highly productive Cricket World Cup campaign last year on English soil, as well as finishing top run-scorer in the T20 Blast while playing for Somerset - suggests he will relish the challenge.

The head-to-head battle with Root will be one of the main storylines, too. England's captain has much on his plate in the coming weeks, including fathoming out a way to nullify the brilliant Babar, who has stylishly climbed his way into the top tier of international batsmen.

Babar Azam has successfully managed to prove himself as a batsman for all formats and his exploits in T20 cricket are also there to be seen. Though it is a format renowned for requiring the muscling of big shots, Babar quickly made a name for himself by playing delightful and eye-pleasing strokes. He also broke Virat Kohli's record for the fastest batsman to 1000 T20I runs and in 2018 dethroned Aaron Finch to become the number-one batsman on ICC's T20I Rankings.

In the four years since his T20I debut for Pakistan, Babar Azam established himself as one of the most important members of the squad and has been given the reigns of the T20 and ODI teams. It is not out of the realms of possibility he will be captaining in all formats in the not-too-distant future.

 

Career Statistics (2012-Present)

Full name: Mohammad Babar Azam

Born: October 15, 1994, (25) Lahore, Punjab

Major teams: Pakistan, Baluchistan, Central Punjab (Pakistan), Faisalabad and Rawalpindi, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Islamabad, Islamabad Region, Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore, Lahore Blues, Leopards, Pakistan A, Pakistan A, Pakistan Cricket Board Blues, Pakistan Under-15s, Pakistan Under-19s, Pakistan Under-23s, Punjab (Pakistan), Rangpur Riders, Rawalpindi Rams, Somerset, State Bank of Pakistan, Sui Southern Gas Corporation, Sydney Sixers, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited

Playing role: Batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm off-break

 

T20 Career - Pakistan

Mat    Inns   NO   Runs   HS    Ave      BF      SR       100    50   4s    6s  

38        38      9     1471    97*   50.72   1148   128.13    0     13   146   21

 

T20 Career

Mat     Inns   NO   Runs   HS     Ave     BF      SR       100   50     4s     6s  

142      138     25    4861    102*  43.01  3879   125.31    3     38    490    87 

 

Career Highlights

  • 4th most runs in T20I by a Pakistani (1471)
  • 2nd highest batting average in T20Is (50.72)
  • Fastest to 1000 T20I runs (26 Inns)
  • Most T20 runs in the calendar year 2019 (1607)
  • Topped the ICC T20I batsman rankings in 2018
  • 4861 T20 runs at 43.01

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali believes Babar Azam is up there with Steve Smith and Virat Kohli as one of the best batsmen in the world ahead of the Test series against England.

Babar has proved he can be a class act in all formats and will be hoping to pick up where he left off on the Test stage at Old Trafford this week six months after he last played for his country. 

The Pakistan white-ball captain scored four hundreds and two half-centuries in his last seven innings in the longest format before the coronavirus brought cricket to a halt.

Babar is sixth in the Test batting rankings, but Azhar says that is not a true reflection of his quality.

Asked if the 25-year-old can elevate himself to be put in the same bracket as Australia batsman Smith and India skipper Kohli in the next few weeks, he said "I think he is right up there already.

"People are thinking and talking about it. He is just hungry for runs and I think if he keeps doing that he will be up there for quite a long time

"His performances have improved massively in Test matches over the last year or so. Firstly he was performing really well in white-ball cricket and people thought he was only a white-ball player but he took on that challenge and played with a lot of freedom and flair.

"As a captain I want him to play the way he wants to. Just to relax and play his game and I'm sure if he does that he will go massively up the rankings in Test matches as well.

"He is a very important player for us but I would like him to be free from any pressure and just enjoy his game."

Azhar is also backing 17-year-old Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to make a big impact in the three-match series with Joe Root's side, which starts in the bio-secure bubble in Manchester on Wednesday.

"They are very talented, obviously not as experienced as some of the bowling attacks that have come to England in the past, but potentially they are right up there," said Azhar.

"Naseem is a young talent who came up and played Test cricket from nowhere. He's impressed all of us and is in our number one bowling attack. Over time he will get the experience he needs.

"In terms of his potential, he is very threatening and hopefully he will be very good for us in this series."

Grant Flower expects Pakistan run machine Babar Azam to "break a lot of records" but fears there is a danger he could regret taking over as captain.

Babar is the top-ranked Twenty20 international batsman in the world and has established himself as one of the best players on the planet in all formats.

The 25-year-old was named T20I skipper last October and also took the ODI captaincy this month.

Flower recognised the elegant right-hander was a special talent when he first started working with him as Pakistan batting coach and believes he is destined for greatness.

He told Stats Perform News: "Babar is brilliant.

"The first time I saw him play and first time I worked with him - when I threw balls at him at the academy in Lahore - he picked up length so much quicker than the rest of the players and I think that's the hallmark of a great batsman.

"If you look at some of the best players in the world like Steve Smith, Virat Kohli et cetera, they pick up length really quickly and play the ball late, have a great eye and hand-eye coordination. He has that and I think he is going to break a lot of records.

"Even in T20 cricket he plays normal cricket shots and that is also the sign of a great player. As long as he stays humble, which I'm sure he will as he's a good bloke, there is no reason why he can't be one of the best and he already pretty much is."

Sri Lanka batting coach Flower hopes Babar thrives as a leader but fears his form could suffer due to the extra pressure on his shoulders.

The former Zimbabwe all-rounder said: "He's got a good cricketing brain but there's a lot of politics in Pakistan cricket and a lot of pressure from the public.

"If you start losing, it's one thing being the best batsman but that will put pressure on your batting skills and it can all come tumbling down pretty quickly.

"We've seen with great players in the past the pressures that captaincy can bring, but some players get better and if he gets better then the world is his oyster. Time will tell.

"But he seems pretty positive about it, I read what he said in an interview when he got the captaincy. I wish him all the best and hopefully all positives come with that."

 

- Grant Flower was speaking on behalf of The Conservation Games, a first-of-its-kind initiative from the Zambesia Conservation Alliance. To watch Grant in action, visit and subscribe to the Conservation Games channel on YouTube.

Babar Azam has been confirmed as Pakistan's new one-day captain, while Azhar Ali will remain in charge of the Test team.

Batsman Babar is to lead his country in white-ball cricket for the 2020-21 season, the Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Wednesday when announcing the new list of central contracts for the upcoming campaign, which begins on July 1.

The 25-year-old averages 54.17 in his 50-over career for Pakistan and sits third in the International Cricket Council’s batsmen rankings, behind India duo Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

He had already replaced Sarfraz Ahmed in charge of the Twenty20 side but will now be skipper in the ODI format too, though it is unclear when Pakistan will next be in action.

A one-day tour to the Netherlands was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning they may not play a 50-over fixture until they take on South Africa in October.

Ali, meanwhile, is to continue in the Test job, with Pakistan scheduled to play a three-match series against England during a tour that also includes a trio of T20 games.

"I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions," Misbah-ul-Haq, chief selector and head coach, said. "This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles.

"I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels."

Meanwhile, Naseem Shah and Iftikhar Ahmad were the two new additions to receive central contracts – but Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were all absent from the 18-man list.

Amir and Wahab "remain in contention", however, as Misbah is hopeful the experienced duo can help aid the development of Pakistan's up-and-coming fast bowlers.

Misbah said: "The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move.

"However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers."

Oshada Fernando struck a defiant maiden international century but Pakistan need only three wickets to seal a Test series win over Sri Lanka heading into the final day in Karachi.

The hosts had piled on the runs in the first half of Sunday's play, Azhar Ali (118) ending a year-long wait for a Test century and the classy Babar Azam (100 not out) hitting a third in his last four matches after Abid Ali and Shan Masood had reached three figures on day three.

It was only the second time in history the top four have all made centuries in the longest format, enabling Pakistan to amass a mammoth 555-3 declared at the National Stadium.

The tourists were set an unlikely 476 to secure a 1-0 win in the first Test series to be played in Pakistan for a decade, but they were on the ropes at 212-7 at stumps.

Opener Oshada was unbeaten on 102 after he and Niroshan Dickwella (65) put on 104 for the sixth wicket, but Haris Sohail and the excellent Naseem Shah (3-31) struck late in the day as Pakistan closed in on victory.

Azhar set about Vishwa Fernando with a flurry of boundaries and celebrated his 16th Test century – albeit his first as captain - after Pakistan resumed on 395-2 in batting-friendly conditions.

The home team's skipper, who struck 13 fours in a brilliant knock, was finally on his way when he was stumped coming down the track to Lasith Embuldeniya, ending a third-wicket stand of 148.

Babar hit Lahiru Kumara for three boundaries in a row and the declaration arrived after he had recorded a ton for the second time in the series.

Sri Lanka were in trouble on 40-2 when 16-year-old Naseem had Kusal Mendis taken by Babar at third slip without scoring just one run after captain Dimuth Karunaratne had edged Mohammad Abbas behind.

Shaheen Afridi got in on the act by dismissing Angelo Mathews before tea, but Oshada stood firm and was rewarded with a half-century early in the evening session.

A fourth-day finish looked a possibility after Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva fell cheaply, but Oshada and Dickwella refused to accept defeat.

Oshada had a life when he was put down by Naseem at backward point on 72 off Yasir Shah, while Dickwella was operating in one-day mode at the other end.

The wicketkeeper-batsman found the ropes 11 times in an entertaining knock before he was bowled by Haris attempting a reverse sweep. Naseem got rid of Dilruwan Perera just before the close too, not long after the resolute Oshada had celebrated reaching his hundred.

Lahiru Kumara and Lasith Embuldeniya did the damage as Pakistan were bowled out cheaply on day one of the second Test before losing three wickets in reply at Karachi National Stadium.

Pakistan collapsed from 127-3 to 191 all out after winning the toss, Kumara taking 4-49 and Embuldeniya – replacing the injured Kasun Rajitha – claiming 4-71.

Azhar Ali's side capitulated after Babar Azam (60) and Asad Shafiq (63) made half-centuries in a series-decider after the first Test in Pakistan for a decade ended in a draw, with only 167 overs possible due to rain and bad light.

The tourists were 64-3 at stumps, trailing by 127 runs, Mohammad Abbas picking up 2-21 on an eventful first day.

Vishwa Fernando and Kumara were excellent with the new ball and the former was rewarded when he cleaned up Shan Masood, then bowled captain Azhar for a second-ball duck.

Abid Ali struck a century on debut in the first Test in Rawalpindi and was going along nicely until he was trapped in front by Kumara, reducing Pakistan to 65-3.

The prolific Babar, who made a hundred last week, came down the track to dispatch Embuldeniya for six and also hit eight fours, but the spinner had the last laugh.

Babar was stumped, foxed by the turn when Embuldeniya tossed one up, and the left-arm tweaker struck again to see the back of Haris Sohail before Kumara hit the top of Mohammad Rizwan's off stump.

Kumara was on a hat-trick in the first over after tea when he trapped Yasir Shah lbw and the paceman drew a poor shot from Shafiq as Pakistan lost six wickets for 24 runs. 

Shaheen Afridi had Oshada Fernando caught behind in the seventh over of Sri Lanka's reply, with Abbas getting rid of skipper Dimuth Karunaratne (25) and Kusal Mendis (13).

Sri Lanka will be counting on former skipper Angelo Mathews when they resume on day two looking to secure a healthy lead.

Abid Ali became the first player to score a hundred on both Test and one-day debut as the rain-ruined first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka finished in a predictable draw.

Abid was one of three players to reach a century on the fifth day in Rawalpindi, Dhananjaya de Silva (102 not out) having done so for the tourists in the morning session before Sri Lanka declared their first innings on 308-6.

Pakistan lost Shan Masood for a duck at the start of their reply but opening partner Abid, along with Babar Azam, capitalised on the opportunity to spend some time in the middle knowing the result of the contest was already a formality.

The pair came together following the departure of Azhar Ali for 36, the Pakistan captain caught at short midwicket off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara to leave the score at 90-2.

However, Sri Lanka failed to make any further inroads into the home line-up before play was called off early due to bad light.

Having made 112 on his first ODI appearance for his country against Australia back in March, Abid marked his Test bow with an unbeaten 109 from 201 deliveries. His knock included 11 fours, while he happily played second fiddle in an unbroken partnership worth 162 for the third wicket.

Babar was far more expansive in his innings, delighting the home crowd in the first Test to be staged on Pakistan soil in over a decade. The elegant right-hander reached three figures with a punch through the covers for one of his 14 boundaries, reaching the landmark in what turned out to be the penultimate over of the game.

The teams will hope for better luck with the weather when they play the second and final Test in Karachi, starting on Thursday.

Azhar Ali insists the Test progress made by Babar Azam means Pakistan have a major positive to take out of their heavy series defeat to Australia.

Pakistan lost the second Test by an innings and 48 runs on day four in Adelaide after Nathan Lyon took 5-69 in their second innings of 239 all out.

The tourists were following on after Australia declared on 589-3 in a first-innings onslaught inspired by David Warner's 335 not out.

Pakistan also lost the first Test by an innings but Azhar was unwilling to completely write off the tour ahead of two matches against Sri Lanka later this month.

Already a star in limited-overs cricket, T20I captain Babar scored 104 in the opening Test in Brisbane and 97 in the first innings of this contest.

"He's been tremendous in white-ball cricket and in the recent past he's been gradually building up his Test stats as well," Test skipper Azhar said of Babar. 

"This series definitely will be the breakthrough he wanted. We were all hopeful that he would do it.

"He's a good enough player. We all know that. But sometimes if you score in tough conditions against tough bowling attacks, it gives you the extra boost and the belief that you can make even better strides in Test cricket.

"That's been a big positive now for us that Babar has stamped himself a Test player. He's been fantastic throughout the year, lovely to watch and hopefully he can continue this form in the Tests that are coming. Babar has been exceptional."

Azhar also highlighted the performances of wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan and Yasir Shah, who scored 113 in the first innings at number eight, but conceded the series was ultimately a disappointment.

He added: "Rizwan waited for his chance and then grabbed it with both hands. The way he batted at Gabba and the way he kept wickets in both games has been fantastic.

"We didn't want to give up at any stage and Yasir put up a lot of fight.

"But it has been a disappointing series. We didn't live up the expectations that were based around this young team. It's very hard here with a young bowling attack and we came with a lot of expectations but it didn't go well. 

"To win Test matches we need to take 20 wickets and we need to work out how to do that. And also to score big in the first innings – getting ahead of the game here is very important.

"It's always hard coming to Australia and we've been beaten by a better side. But very positive for the future, we will learn a lot.

"I'd like to congratulate Australia, especially David Warner for his triple hundred."

Steve Smith smashed an unbeaten half-century as Australia beat Pakistan by seven wickets at Manuka Oval to lead the Twenty20 International series.

Prolific captain Babar Azam made a classy 50 and Iftikhar Ahmed bludgeoned 63 not out from only 34 balls to get the tourists up to 150-6 after winning the toss.

Australia looked to be heading for an emphatic victory in the first match of the series when they were frustrated by rain, but they were not to be denied two days later in the day-night contest in Canberra.

Smith got them home with a magnificent 80 off 51 deliveries, pacing his innings to perfection as top-ranked Pakistan were consigned to defeat with nine balls to spare.

The brilliant Babar struck Kane Richardson's first two balls for four and kept Pakistan ticking along after Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail fell cheaply to Pat Cummins and Richardson respectively.

Ashton Agar (2-23) put the squeeze on, seeing the back of Mohammad Rizwan and Asif Ali with Pakistan struggling to increase the run rate, Cummins and Mitchell Starc also giving little away.

Pakistan were 106-5 when Babar was superbly run out by David Warner just after reaching his half-century - which included six fours - but Iftikhar struck Richardson for three sixes and found the ropes five times in a much-needed onslaught.

Warner (20) was looking ominous in the run chase until the in-form opener's off stump was clattered by Mohammad Amir and Australia were 48-2 in the sixth over when Mohammad Irfan got rid of Aaron Finch.

Smith was in imperious touch, though, effortlessly flicking Amir for a wristy six and putting on 58 for the third wicket with Ben McDermott, who was trapped in front by Imad Wasim for 21.

Former captain Smith took 15 off the 17th over from Amir and struck 11 boundaries before watching on from the other end as Ashton Turner struck the winning run in the penultimate over.

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