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Virat Kohli, Steve Smith lead from front in ICC rankings, bowlers also move up

Virat Kohli and Steve Smith produced magnificent knocks that propelled their teams to victory, while Cheteshwar Pujara climbed to second in the latest International Cricket Council rankings. India and Australia bowlers too made significant gains.

cricket Updated: Nov 28, 2017 18:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Virat Kohli,Steve Smith,Ashes
Virat Kohli and Steve Smith are currently world cricket’s two most best batsmen.(Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

In India’s Nagpur Test win over Sri Lanka and Australia’s Ashes success against England in Brisbane had a common thread. In both matches, the captains led from the front with amazing knocks and the bowlers chipped in.

Steve Smith’s patient, unbeaten 141 was the vital factor in Australia taking a first innings lead and seizing the momentum to knock over England.

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In Nagpur, Cheteshwar Pujara laid the base for India’s dominance over Sri Lanka with a century, but it was Virat Kohli who stole the show with a record fifth double century.

Kohli and Smith underlined the fact that they were at the peak of their powers. While Smith rescued Australia and changed the course of the match, Kohli ground the Sri Lanka bowling with his blazing 213. The Indian skipper’s knock tied him level with Brian Lara for most double tons as skipper.

Pujara’s solid century may have been overshadowed but his contribution is reflected in the latest International Cricket Council rankings. Smith cemented his top spot with 941 points, joint fifth in terms of most points in batting history in Tests, behind Don Bradman (961), Len Hutton (945), Jack Hobbs (942) and Ricky Ponting (942). Pujara moved to the second spot.

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KOHLI’S SLOW CLIMB

Kohli, despite scoring his fifth double century in seven Test series, remains fifth primarily because Smith and Joe Root’s contributions have been larger. The England skipper averages 56 from eight Tests with two centuries while Smith has 842 runs at an average of 64 with four centuries.

Pujara’s rise is a tribute to his brilliant run in 2017. In 10 Tests, Pujara has 1068 runs at an average of over 71 with four centuries and five fifties.

In both matches, bowlers contributed a lot. R Ashwin, who took eight wickets in Nagpur and became the fastest to a Test tally of 300 (54 Tests), bettering Australian pace legend Dennis Lillee (56 Tests), has gained nine points to hold on to the fourth spot.

READ | Ravichandran Ashwin is currently the best spinner in the world: Muttiah Muralitharan

STARC IS BACK

Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc, playing his first Test since suffering a foot injury in the Bangalore Test against India in February-March, picked up six wickets on his comeback. The performance in Brisbane helped him break back into the top 10.

The top Indian bowler is Ravindra Jadeja, who reclaimed second spot after taking five wickets against Sri Lanka. James Anderson, the No 1-ranked Test bowler, has dropped five points after taking just two wickets in Brisbane.

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While the International Cricket Council rankings highlight gains for batsmen and bowlers, it cannot be ignored that four of the top five batsmen in world cricket are captains.

2017 is proving to be the year of the captains.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 17:35 IST