Dhoni eyes regaining top spot in ODI rankings

Published: Saturday, August 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo:Mahendra Singh Dhoni will get a chance to wrest the top slot from Australian Adam Gilchrist, while comeback man Sachin Tendulkar will be out to reclaim a place in the top 20 of the LG ICC Player Rankings for ODI batsmen when the Unitech tri-series begins here on Monday.

Dhoni, in fact, has a great chance to reclaim top spot in the ODI batsmen's ladder, a position he held briefly earlier this year.

Dhoni's last ODI outings, against the West Indies, were modest with 95 runs in five matches but despite that he is still just 30 rating points behind leader Adam Gilchrist in fourth spot and a strong showing in Sri Lanka could allow him to overtake the Australian.

Dhoni is one of four Indian batsmen inside the top 20 along with Yuvraj Singh (9th), captain Rahul Dravid (12th) and Virender Sehwag (19th) but one man outside that group who will be especially keen to rejoin it is Sachin Tendulkar.

The little master, who missed the ODI series against England, Pakistan (in Abu Dhabi) and the West Indies following shoulder surgery, has slipped to 25th in the rankings and so he has some ground to make up in the next couple of weeks.

Sri Lanka has only two batsmen inside that top 20 but both of them, Kumar Sangakkara (10th) and Sanath Jayasuriya (13th), are in excellent form, as is the player just outside that grouping, captain Mahela Jayawardene in 21st spot.

Two places further back is former leader Marvan Atapattu, making his comeback after a long-term back injury, and it will be fascinating to see how he adjusts to life back in the top flight after a lengthy absence, if he is included in any starting line-ups.

South Africa is, as in the recent Test series against Sri Lanka, missing a couple of its batting heavyweights in captain Graeme Smith (its top-ranked batsman in seventh position) and Jacques Kallis (26th) but it still has plenty of class to call upon.

Herschelle Gibbs (15th) returned to form in the second Test this week and Boeta Dippenaar (18th) comes into the squad to bolster the top order, while the ever-dangerous Mark Boucher, captain for this series, lies 37th in the batting table.

With the ball, the LG ICC Player Rankings suggest India has an edge over its opponents with three players in the top 20 positions.

Irfan Pathan, who struggled for form in the Caribbean, remains well-placed in the bowling table, in seventh spot -- he is also fifth in the ODI all-rounder list -- while spinner Harbhajan Singh lies ninth and Ajit Agarkar is 12th.

South Africa can boast the leading bowler in the LG ICC Player Rankings in Shaun Pollock and the evergreen performer is also top of the all-rounder list too.

One other player for the Proteas is inside that top 20 list of bowlers, Makhaya Ntini, although he will enter the series with a question mark over his fitness after picking up a hamstring injury during the second Test of the series against Sri Lanka this past week. Below that duo, the next highest ranked South Africa bowlers are Andre Nel (22nd) and Andre Hall (23rd).

Like South Africa, Sri Lanka also has two bowlers inside the top 20 and it is no surprise that duo are spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan (11th) and left-arm swing and seam bowler Chaminda Vaas -- joint 14th with England's Steve Harmison. Behind them comes Farveez Maharoof in the 26th position.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, India and South Africa will all have points to prove when their ODI tri-series gets underway on Monday.

For the hosts it will be all about maintaining its recent momentum, with a 100 per cent record in its last seven matches in this form of the game, against England and the Netherlands.

If Jayawardene's side can do that it will prove itself to be a serious contender for both the ICC Champions Trophy and next year?s ICC Cricket World Cup and also make further progress up the LG ICC ODI Championship table.

Sri Lanka currently lies sixth in that table but is only four rating points behind New Zealand and six adrift of fourth-placed India.

The India squad will itself be out to show its 4-1 series loss to the West Indies in the Caribbean in May was just a temporary blip on its chart of excellent results in this form of the game over the past 12 months.

And South Africa will be keen to show just why it is as high as second in the LG ICC ODI Championship table as, if it can do that, it will have every chance of reducing Australia's lead at the head of affairs from its current margin of eight points.

LG ICC ODI Championship: 1. Australia (131) 2. South Africa (123) 3. Pakistan (115) 4. India (113) 5. New Zealand (111) 6. Sri Lanka (107) 7. West Indies (99) 8.

England (96) 9. Zimbabwe (35) 10. Bangladesh (29) 11. Kenya (7).

LG ICC Player Rankings for ODIs: Batsmen (Top 10): 1. Adam Gilchrist, Aus (809) 2. Ramnaresh Sarwan, WI (790) 3. Ricky Ponting, Aus (785) 4. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ind (779) 5. Andrew Symonds, Aus (774) 6. Mike Hussey, Aus (762) 7. Graeme Smith, SA (759) 8. Kevin Pietersen, Eng (737) 9. Yuvraj Singh, Ind (735) 10.

Kumara Sangakkara, SL (723) Bowlers (Top 10): 1. Shaun Pollock, SA (858) 2. Shane Bond, NZ (762) 3. Glenn McGrath, Aus (756) 4. Daniel Vettori, NZ (750) 5. Brett Lee, Aus (732) 6. Nathan Bracken, Aus (723) 7. Irfan Pathan, Ind (713) 8. Ian Bradshaw, WI (708) 9. Makhaya Ntini, SA and Harbhajan Singh, Ind (686) All-rounders (Top five): 1. Shaun Pollock, SA (462) 2. Andrew Flintoff, Eng (407) 3. Chris Gayle, WI (404) 4. Andrew Symonds, Aus (378) 5. Irfan Pathan, Ind (361)

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