Lara turns heat on Dravid in ICC Test rankings

Published: Friday, November 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Dubai:After his brilliant double century in the Multan Test saw him leapfrog four places to the fourth spot in the ladder, West Indies captain Brian Lara would get another opportunity in the Karachi Test to go one step further, replacing Team India captain Rahul Dravid.

India, presently struggling in the bouncy South African pitches in the ongoing ODI series, cuts a sorry figure in the latest ICC Test Rankings with Dravid, at third, is the lone entry in batsmen's top 10 and it's the same story in the bowlers' elite league which has old warhorse Anil Kumble at the sixth spot.

Meanwhile, Pakistani run-machine Mohammad Yousuf needs 149 in Karachi to set new mark for Test runs in a calendar year.

Yousuf consolidated his hold on second place in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsman when his sublime double of 56 and 191 helped secure a draw for his side against the West Indies in Multan, a result that maintained Pakistan's 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

The elegant right-handers seventh hundred of the year in this form of the game meant he has not only increased his rating to a new record mark for a Pakistan batsman but also that he has closed the gap to Ricky Ponting at the top of the list to just 17 points.

Ponting may well extend that margin thanks to his hundred -- his 32nd in Tests -- equalling Steve Waugh's Australian record on the opening day of the Ashes series against England at The Gabba, but Yousuf still has a batting record in his sights when he faces up to the West Indies in Karachi next week.

He now has 1562 Test runs in 2006 and needs only another 149 in the third match of the series to become the most prolific batsman ever in a calendar year in Test cricket.

The existing record is held by Vivian Richards with the former West Indies captain totaling 1710 runs in 10 matches in 1976. But with Yousuf in such prolific form, it is a mark that is well within his range.

Yousuf is clear of Dravid, who occupies third position in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, but behind Dravid is Brian Lara, like Yousuf another man in red-hot touch at the moment.

The left-hander's 216 in Multan, his ninth score of more than 200 in this form of the game, has seen him climb up four places to fourth in the listings and he is also a player who could threaten top spot in the not-too-distant future.

Lara topped to Test rankings in June last year and was second as recently as November 2005 when his 226 against Australia in Adelaide saw him become the leading run-scorer in Test history.

But after that he endured modest series in New Zealand and at home to India and he started the current series against Inzamam-ul Haq's side in 13th place in the listings.

Scores of 61 and 122 in Lahore in last weeks first Test saw Lara rise five spots to break back into the top 10 and he consolidated his place within that elite group with his double hundred in Multan. Pakistans Younis Khan (sixth) and Inzamam-ul-Haq (13th) are both heading in the wrong direction in the batting list after modest returns in Multan while the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers sees no movement within the top 20 places in the wake of that match.

The bowling table is headed by Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, clear of South Africas Makhaya Ntini. Outside the top 20, Jerome Taylor continues to make impressive strides, climbing 15 places to 41st position.

The LG ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders is still topped by South Africa's Jacques Kallis but England captain Andrew Flintoff, currently lying second in that list, can close that gap with a solid display in the opening Ashes encounter.

In the LG ICC Test Championship table, Pakistan is looking to consolidate its hold on third place and has already gone some way to doing that after its nine-wicket win in the first Test in Lahore.

But, despite that victory, it still needs a win in Karachi next week to maintain its current ranking of 112 points and its one point lead over fourth-placed India.

Australia currently heads the LG ICC Test Championship table, 11 points clear of its nearest rivals England, while the West Indies team lies in eighth overall, 40 rating points behind Pakistan.

LG ICC Test Championship:

Teams: 1. Australia (130) 2. England (119) 3. Pakistan (112) 4. India (111) 5. Sri Lanka (103) 6. South Africa (94) 7. New Zealand (92) 8. West Indies (72) 9. Zimbabwe (28) 10. Bangladesh (2)

Batsmen (Top 10): 1. Ricky Ponting, Aus (931) 2. Moh'd Yousuf, Pak (914) 3. Rahul Dravid, Ind (882) 4. Brian Lara, WI (822) 5. Jacques Kallis, SA (815) 6. Younis Khan, Pak (810) 7. Matthew Hayden, Aus (808) 8. Mike Hussey, Aus (780) 9. Kumar Sangakkara, SL (771) 10. Mahela Jayawardene, SL (770) and Kevin Pietersen, Eng (770)

Bowlers (Top 10): 1. Muttiah Muralitharan, SL (908) 2. Makhaya Ntini, SA (830) 3. Shane Warne, Aus (813) 4. Glenn McGrath, Aus (811) 5. Andrew Flintoff, Eng (737) 6. Anil Kumble, Ind (736) 7. Matthew Hoggard, Eng (723) 8. Shane Bond, NZ (720) 9. Shoaib Akhtar, Pak (707) 10. Steve Harmison, Eng (691)

All-rounders (Top 5): 1. Jacques Kallis, SA (466) 2. Andrew Flintoff, Eng (427) 3. Shaun Pollock, SA (296) 4. Daniel Vettori, NZ (290) 5. Irfan Pathan, Ind (270)


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