India coach Gary Kirsten has urged his players to focus on becoming the top one-day side, which they can do by winning every match in the one-day tri-series in Sri Lanka.
New Zealand and hosts Sri Lanka are the other teams in the event ending on Monday, a warm-up ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy starting in Kirsten’s native South Africa on Sept. 22.
“We’ve set our goals for the next eight months on what we want to achieve but one of them is to become the best cricket team in the world,” he said before the team’s departure on Wednesday.
“We are headed that way and we are very excited.”
Second-ranked India can overtake South Africa, one rating point ahead, if they win all the games in Sri Lanka.
However, India will be without explosive opener Virender Sehwag and bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan. Both are recovering after shoulder surgery and will be sidelined until after the Champions Trophy.
India, as holders, were knocked out in the first round of the Twenty20 World Cup in England, although they won a low key one-day series against hosts West Indies before taking a break. Their main worry is finding the ideal opening partner for Gautam Gambhir.
“We are not sure about the combination,” Kirsten said. “But obviously, missing Sehwag is huge, he is a high quality player.” He welcomed back Rahul Dravid, the 36-year-old batsman who last played a one-dayer in October 2007 but has been recalled for the Champions Trophy after young team mates fell to short-pitched bowling at the Twenty20 World Cup.
“It’s great to have him,” Kirsten said. “With the sort of experience he brings, it’s going to help the team, it’s great.”
India play New Zealand in their first game on Friday.