Pressure on Aussies to stay on top of table

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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London: The second-leg of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Championship Trophy decider gets underway in 10 days time with South Africa and Australia going head-to-head in a three-match Test series.

The series is an early opportunity for South Africa to restore pride after the comprehensive mauling received at the hands of the champion side in Australia late last year, according to an official press release from the ICC. The 3-0 whitewash exposed the fragility of the South Africans' championship title claims, although victory in the One-day series provided a late confidence booster. Stephen Waugh's side goes into the series knowing that nothing less than victory will be enough to preserve its leadership of the ICC Test Championship table. Australia has to successfully defend the two points gained by winning the last series between the sides in South Africa in 1996-97, to keep its place as Test cricket's top ranked team. Otherwise, South Africa's superior all round record - it won in India where Australia lost - would take it to the top of the table for the first time, having occupied second place since the launch of the official ICC Championship in May 2001, the release said. If Australia wins the rubber and the two points that go with it, the positions at the top of the table would remain exactly the same. The new series result would replace Australia's 2-1 victory margin from 1996-97 A drawn series would see Australia lose a championship point and South Africa gain one. This would drop Australia's series points average from 1.54 to 1.46, while South Africa would rise from 1.50 to 1.56, taking it to the head of the table A South African win would secure a strong championship lead, with two extra points boosting its average to 1.62. Two points lost by the visitors would mean a significant drop from its current 1.54 to 1.38, the release added. The ICC Test Championship table:

South Africa161132241.5
Sri Lanka14752161.14
New Zealand16763171.06
West Indies14671130.93

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