Ranking in January, 2011: #4 in Tests, #7 in ODIs
Ranking in December, 2020: #6 in Tests, #8 in ODIs, #7 in T20Is
High-points: Won 2014 T20 World Cup, first Test series win in England (2014), first Test series win in South Africa (2018)
Low-points: Lost ODI series to Zimbabwe at home in 2017, 3-0 whitewash by England at home in 2018, conceded first Test win against Bangladesh, lost all nine games across three formats in the home series against India in 2017
Sri Lanka’s decade was a tale of two halves. In the first, they reached an ODI World Cup final, won a T20 World Cup and claimed their first-ever Test series win in England, the latter two in 2014, with players like Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Rangana Herath.
In the second half, after the retirement of most of these aforementioned greats, they lost an ODI series to Zimbabwe, conceded a Test win to Bangladesh and were whitewashed 9-0 across three formats by India, all at home. Their new generation of batsmen, along with Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne who were touted as the flag-bearers of their batting, were inconsistent. 2016 onwards, Sri Lanka’s top five averaged 32.5 in both ODIs and Tests which places them in the lower half of the table, with the likes of Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland.
The bowlers staged a couple of memorable victories - against South Africa and Australia - but such moments were too far and few between. There was uncertainty about their captain, playing musical chairs for the role between five different players within a year.
Sri Lanka also lost their mojo of competing in ICC tournaments. They were nowhere near the knockout stage in the 2016 T20 World Cup, the 2017 Champions Trophy and the 2019 World Cup. There are little qualms that the last five years were Sri Lanka’s lowest period as a cricketing nation since they became a force in the 1990s.
What lies ahead: Sri Lankan cricket has stood for resilience ever since its inception. One can expect it stays the same and they fight their way through, pinning this as a passing phase. They have the ingredients. Their new crop of spinners have the talent, but it will be too ambitious to expect them to emulate Muttiah Muralitharan or Rangana Herath. They possess in their pace battery, though still raw. If the batsmen acquire desired consistency, with a promising bunch supposed to stay active for a good part of the decade, Sri Lankan cricket can slowly get back on track. Also, the Lankan Premier League has arrived and fans will hope it stays put in the long run and provides players for the national setup, as similar leagues have done for some other countries.
Ranking in January, 2011: #6 in Tests, #6 in ODIs
Ranking in December, 2020: #7 in Tests, #6 in ODIs, #4 in T20Is
High-points: Won the 2017 Champions Trophy, number 1 ranking in both T20Is and Tests, leveled Test series twice in England (in 2016 and 2018)
Low-points: Only top Test-playing nation to lose a Test to Zimbabwe (2013), didn’t qualify for semifinals of any World Cup since 2014, whitewash in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand (twice each)
Not much has changed in Pakistan cricket over the last 10 years. Unpredictability and inexplicable batting collapses are still at their heart. “One minute down, next minute up” as described by Nasser Hussain to sum up their uncertain nature, Pakistan cricket fluctuated from losing a Test match to Zimbabwe to achieving the Test Mace (number 1 Test ranking). In another such example, they qualified for the 2017 Champions Trophy as the number eight side but stunned everyone by clinching the trophy. They were also number 1 in T20Is before sliding to the fourth position.
Overall, Pakistan lost 42.2 percent of their international games between January 2011 and December 2020 which is their highest defeat percentage in a decade. Although it is only marginally higher than the preceding cycle of 10 years, they had a horror run in Test cricket in SENA countries - South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia. They lost 18 out of these 25 Tests, winning only four of them, three of which came in England. After achieving the number 1 Test ranking, they lost five Tests in a row. They broke the streak with a win at Lord’s in 2018 but then lost seven on bounce.
In the 1990s, Pakistan won 10 Tests in SENA countries and lost only nine. It was a period when their fast bowling was at its peak - a bowling average of 29.8. That number bloated to 39 runs per wicket in the 2010s. Their batting was always in shambles, but Pakistan lost shine with the ball as well.
They lost Mohammad Amir to an off-field love-hate relationship. Mohammad Abbas had an average of 16.6 in his first 12 Tests, but the subsequent 11 Tests brought 23 scalps at 39.2 runs apiece. Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali did not translate their potential on a consistent basis. At 20, Shaheen Shah Afridi became the leader of the attack, with little help from the others. Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan faded to leave the spinner’s role vacant.
Despite these hardships, Pakistan balanced out their decade with the aforementioned high-points. Also, cricket has come back to Pakistan. Off-field events were not supposed to be considered here, but in Pakistan’s case, it is a huge positive in the long run.
What lies ahead: Pakistan have hit the reset button, handing captaincy to Babar Azam, their first batting superstar in a long time. Under him, they would hope to instill consistency in their results, something which has been on their wishlist since the turn of the century.
Ranking in January, 2011: #9 in Tests, #9 in ODIs
Ranking in December, 2020: #9 in Tests, #7 in ODIs, #8 in T20Is
High-points: Won Tests against England and Australia, qualified for the Asia Cup final in 2012, 2016 & 2018, qualified for the World Cup quarterfinal in 2015, qualified for the Champions Trophy semifinal in 2017, ODI series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa in 2015
Low-Points: Lost ODI series to Zimbabwe in 2011 and 2013, lost one-off Test to Afghanistan in 2019
Having started off slowly in international cricket, Bangladesh showed they can compete at this level towards the end of the 2000s. In the 2010s, they continued on that road to achieve greater accolades. Their stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza to name a few, performed consistently in multi-team tournaments which resulted in Bangladesh qualifying for the knockout stages at the World Cup and Champions Trophy. Shakib was in strong contention for the Player-of-the-Tournament honour during the 2019 World Cup.
Bangladesh registered maiden Test wins against Sri Lanka, England and Australia. They now have five 500-plus totals in Test cricket, top two of which are away from home and all of them came in the 2010s. Their bowling attack, infused with spinners, makes them a real force at home. Consequently, they won five bilateral ODI series in a row after the 2015 World Cup - three of which were against top-quality sides - Pakistan, India and South Africa.
Overall, Bangladesh passed a number of stern tests with flying colours which weighs in gold over the one-off upsets they used to cause earlier. They sent the message that they cannot be taken lightly and the cricketing world has accepted it.
What lied ahead: A greater test lies ahead in maintaining that consistency and ensuring that the fire doesn’t vanish once the greats hang up their boots. Crossing the knockouts hurdle in multi-team tournaments will be at the top of their list. Test match victories overseas will be a bonus.