KARACHI • Cricket-obsessed Pakistanis were yesterday celebrating their national team's incredible journey to the top of the Test rankings after a turbulent seven years in which they were forced to play home matches at neutral venues.
Pakistan supplanted arch-rivals India to become the world's No. 1 Test side on Monday, after India's final Test against the West Indies ended in a rain-hit draw at Port of Spain.
It capped a remarkable rise under captain Misbah-ul-Haq's leadership for a team who were nearly thrown out of the international arena over a spot-fixing scandal on their tour of England in 2010. Pakistan have also been forced to play their home matches in the United Arab Emirates since an armed attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan branded the rise "historic".
"This is a historic moment in our rich Test cricket history and the credit for this great achievement goes not only to this team but to all the players, coaches and support staff members who have represented Pakistan in recent years," he said.
New coach Mickey Arthur stressed the work has just begun. "I am just the lucky coach who has been with the team now but others have done wonderfully well," said the South African, singling out his predecessor Waqar Younis. "People may say that it's easier to get there than to remain there so we need to keep that momentum, and improve in one-dayers."
Under Younis, Pakistan plummeted to No. 9 in one-day international rankings - a slump which they need to address in the five-match series against England starting today.
In Port of Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board launched an investigation after only 22 overs could be played over five days in the fourth and final Test between the West Indies and India at the Queen's Park Oval due to a soggy outfield.
The lack of action meant India won the four-Test series 2-0 but surrendered top spot to Pakistan less than a week after taking over the top ranking from Australia.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS