Team India in sight of 'no 2' spot

Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 12:02 [IST]
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Team India to reclaim 'no 2' spot

Dubai: India will go second in the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Championship table if it beats England in the upcoming two-Test series that gets underway in Chennai on Thursday.

By winning the series 1-0 or 2-0, Mahendra Singh Dhoni"s team will overtake South Africa and recapture second, a position it had briefly enjoyed after its 2-0 home series victory over Australia recently.

South Africa will have an immediate opportunity to take back that place with a three-match series in Australia on the horizon. The first match of that series begins in Perth on 17 December.

England will also be eyeing a good opportunity while in India. A 2-0 series win will see it move up one place to fourth in the standings, ahead of Sri Lanka. That result would also bring it to within three ratings points of India in third position.

A drawn series or a 1-0 win for England would leave the teams in their current positions although in both instances, India would lose ground on South Africa while Kevin Pietersen"s team would close the gap on Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, close rivals the West Indies and New Zealand do battle over the next couple of weeks in a two-Test series in the Land of the Long White Cloud. The first Test takes place in Dunedin beginning on Thursday with the second one scheduled for Napier from 19 December.

At present, New Zealand is placed in eighth position, just a fraction of a ratings point behind the West Indies. A drawn series would leave that state of affairs unchanged but a 1-0 or 2-0 win for the Black Caps would see them leap-frog over Chris Gayle and his men.

Equally, a series win for the West Indies would widen that narrow gap between the sides so there is plenty to play for as the players take the field.

As far as the players are concerned, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to make progress up the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Player Rankings with many of the world"s top performers on show.

Pietersen is the highest-ranked batsman taking part in the India v England series and he can break back into the top five with a good display in these two matches. His team-mates Alistair Cook (in 16th position) and Paul Collingwood (in 20th position) should also get the chance to make further inroads towards the top 10.

India has four batsmen in the top 20 with Virender Sehwag (10th), VVS Laxman (14th), Sachin Tendulkar (17th) and Gautam Gambhir (18th) all out to impress.

Of course, they are all a long way behind number-one batsman and the ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2008 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who will be a key part of the West Indies" line-up in New Zealand.

He will be supported by Ramnaresh Sarwan in 19th position and Chris Gayle (30th position). There are currently no New Zealand batsmen in the top 30 but Ross Taylor (in 33rd place), Daniel Vettori (in 36th), Brendon McCullum (in 38th place) and Jacob Oram (in 40th position) will be trying to do something about that.

On the bowling front, the only player in the top-10 who will take part in either of these series is Harbhajan Singh in seventh position. The 28-year-old will be anxious to make further progress up the rankings although he still has a long way to go to catch Sri Lanka"s Muttiah Muralidaran at the top.

With conditions likely to favour the spinners, England"s Monty Panesar will be keen to exploit that and perhaps break into the top 10 from his current position in 11th. Other players in the top 20 in this series are James Anderson (15th place), Andrew Flintoff (17th) and Zaheer Khan (20th).

While their respective teams are almost tied on the rankings, the same is true for West Indies pace man Jerome Taylor and Kiwi slow left-armer Vettori. Taylor is just ahead of the New Zealand captain in 13th position but another strong home performance from Vettori in 14th place could change all that.


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