The selection criteria for the team are as follows: we’ve picked the top five batsmen, the best wicketkeeper, the top-ranked all-rounder, and the four top bowlers in the ICC’s all-time lists, ensuring there are at least two spinners and at least three quicks.
The all-time Pakistan ODI XI, based on the ICC rankings: The selections
All-time Batting Ranking: 52nd (808 points)
247 ODIs, 8824 runs @ 39.21, 20 100s
Saeed Anwar’s 20 ODI hundreds are the most by any Pakistan player, and the graceful left-hander’s 194 against India in 1997 stood as the highest score in men’s ODI cricket for more than a decade. The opener made it to Wisden’s ODI team of the 1990s.
All-time Batting Ranking: 2nd (931 points)
62 ODIs, 2572 runs @ 47.62, 7 100s
A top-order batsman known for his elegance and effortless stroke play, Abbas had an insatiable appetite for runs, as shown by his ODI average of 47.62, which would be impressive by modern standards, but for his time was extraordinary. Inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2020, the ‘Asian Bradman’ is rightly regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
All-time Batting Ranking: 21st (865 points)
80 ODIs, 3808 runs @ 56.83, 13 100s
One of modern cricket’s best multi-format players, Babar Azam’s ODI record is formidable. While his strike rate of 88.70 is not rapid, his 13 hundred from 80 matches illustrate his consistency in the anchor role in Pakistan’s batting line-up. Babar’s cover drive is arguably the most exquisite in the world, and his technically correct style illustrates that classical batting can still be effective in modern white-ball cricket.
All-time Batting Ranking: 7th (910 points)
233 ODIs, 7381 runs @ 41.70, 8 100s
Miandad was one of the first players to run aggressively between the wickets in ODI cricket. His running, combined with his meticulous shot placement and mental determination, allowed him to dominate bowling attacks during his ODI career. Arguably Pakistan’s greatest batsman across all formats, he scored a remarkable 50 ODI half-centuries to go with hundreds. Six of those fifties came during Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup triumph.
All-time Batting Ranking: 40th (822 points)
283 ODIs, 7170 runs @ 32.88, 5 100s
A wristy player who loved striking the ball square of the wicket, Malik captained Pakistan in 34 of his 283 ODIs. While his average of 32.88 is only a little over half of Babar’s, Malik’s tally of 7170 ODI runs is a hugely impressive achievement. His cricketing career was somewhat overshadowed by match-fixing accusations in 2000, but on his day, Malik was one of the best batsmen of his time. His leg-breaks brought him 89 ODI wickets, too.
Umar Akmal (wk)
All-time batting ranking: >100th (702 points)
121 ODIS, 58 dismissals; 3194 runs @ 34.34, 2 100s
While he was predominantly a batsman, Umar Akmal kept wicket 37 times for Pakistan in ODIs. The precocious, often troublesome talent scored an ODI hundred aged 19, but after such an explosive start to his career, the younger brother of Kamran struggled to fully realize his potential, with disciplinary issues off the field stunting his development.
All-time Bowling Ranking: 39th (780 points)
All-time All-rounder Ranking: 10th (480 points)
175 ODIs, 182 wickets at 26.61, BBI: 6-14; 3709 runs @ 33.31, 1 100
The current Prime Minister of Pakistan is arguably the best all-rounder of all time. While Imran’s Test record is extraordinary, his ODI bowling average of 26.62 and batting average of 33.31 show his huge influence in international one-day cricket too. Some all-rounders struggle to keep both skills going towards the end of their careers, but Imran continued to improve and captained Pakistan to World Cup glory in 1992 in his final international appearance.
All-time Bowling Ranking: 14th (851 points)
356 ODIs, 502 wickets @ 23.52, BBI: 5-15
Wasim Akram’s control of swing and seam at an extreme pace means he is viewed by many as the best left-arm quick of all time. His record of 502 ODI wickets is staggering and puts him second in the all-time list behind Muttiah Muralitharan’s 534. Wasim was ranked as the best ODI bowler of all time by Wisden in 2002 and is a shoo-in in this team.
All-time Bowling Ranking: 41st (778 points)
262 ODIs, 416 wickets at 23.84, BBI: 7-36
Known for extracting significant late swing with his full deliveries, Waqar Younis was one of the quickest bowlers of his time. His 416 wickets put him third in the all-time list of ODI wicket-takers, while his 13 five-wicket hauls in ODIs are the most in history.
All-time Bowling Ranking: 22nd (810 points)
133 ODIs, 184 wickets @ 22.72, BBI: 5-24
A latecomer to international cricket, Ajmal had one of the deepest bags of tricks of any spinner. With a virtually unreadable doosra and complete master of his variations, Ajmal regularly bamboozled batsmen on his way to 184 wickets at an outstanding average of 22.72. However, doubts about his action blighted the latter part of his career.
All-time Bowling Ranking: 26th (805 points)
169 ODIs, 288 wickets at 21.78, BBI: 5-20
Mushtaq will always be remembered as the first off-spinner to master the doosra, The fastest bowler ever to 100, 200, and 250 ODI wickets, his amazing control also meant that unusually for a spinner, he was often used at the death.
The all-time Pakistan ODI XI, based on the ICC rankings: The line-up
1. Saeed Anwar
2. Zaheer Abbas
3. Babar Azam
4. Javed Miandad
5. Saleem Malik
6. Umar Akmal (wk)
7. Imran Khan (c)
8. Wasim Akram
9. Waqar Younis
10. Saeed Ajmal
11. Saqlain Mushtaq