India can put its poor run of one-day form behind it this week and concentrate on moving up the LG ICC Test Championship ladder as its three-match series in South Africa begins on Friday.
Should Rahul Dravid’s men register a series win over the Proteas by one Test they will instantly draw level with arch-rivals Pakistan in third place on 112 ratings points.
And if India win the series 2-0 or 3-0, it will leap-frog Pakistan and then have second-placed England in its sights. A drawn or lost series, however, will see it lose ratings points and slip away from Inzamam-ul-Haq’s side where it could get caught by the chasing Sri Lanka.
England goes into the third Ashes Test in the WACA on Thursday lying well adrift of Australia which has now been sitting on top of the LG Test Championship since June 2003. And that doesn’t look like changing any time soon as the Australians take a 2-0 lead into the Perth Test and even if it ends up losing the series 2-3, it will still remain top spot.
New Zealand can draw level with Sri Lanka at fifth place in the LG ICC Test Championship if it beats Mahela Jayawardene’s team at Wellington, starting on Friday.
The Black Caps are currently seventh in the latest rankings but if they continue their winning ways they could go above South Africa and draw level with Sri Lanka.
New Zealand won the first Test at Christchurch by five wickets in just three days but it can expect a backlash from Sri Lanka this time around. Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara is in fine form and has moved up two places to seventh in the latest LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen following his unbeaten century in the second innings at Christchurch.
He now has 807 ratings points, just six behind his personal best, which he attained against Pakistan at Lahore in 2002, and seven behind Australia batsman Michael Hussey.
Ricky Ponting is still top of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen and he needs just three more ratings points to go above England legend Len Hutton to second in the all-time list behind perhaps the greatest of them all, Don Bradman.
|v Ind, February, 1948|
|v WI, March, 1954|
|v Eng, December, 2006|
|v Aus, August, 1912|
|v Aus, August, 1956|
|v Ind, January, 1967|
|v Eng, March, 1981|
|v Aus, June, 1955|
|v Eng, November, 2002|
|v WI, November, 2006|
Interestingly, there are now no fewer than eight batsmen who have more than 800 ratings points, an all-time first. Up to about five years ago there were generally only two or three batsmen with ratings points above 800.
Conversely, there are now just three bowlers with more than 800 points, a contrast from years gone by when four or five players tended to have reached that mark.
Despite defeat in the first Test, Sri Lanka’s talismanic spinner Muttiah Muralidaran has strengthened his position at the top of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers with seven wickets in the match.
Muralidaran is the only bowler to have more than 900 ratings points and one of just three – the others being Makhaya Ntini and Glenn McGrath – to have topped 800 in the current list.
New Zealander Shane Bond is the big mover at the top end of that list, having moved up three places to joint fifth with England’s Matthew Hoggard. Like Muralidaran, Bond took seven wickets at Christchurch and is now returning to the form he showed in the series against the West Indies earlier this year.
Bond’s team-mate Daniel Vettori has moved above South African Shaun Pollock into third spot in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders.
Vettori’s batting has improved enormously in recent times (he is now ranked 39th in the Test batting rankings) but while his all-rounder ratings points of 315 is impressive, he still has a long way to go to catch his two compatriots who topped the all-rounder rankings – Chris Cairns (who reached 500 points in 2000) and Richard Hadlee (482 points in 1987).