South Africa sets eye on number one ODI ranking in New Zealand

 MUMBAI: South Africa has a chance to reclaim the top spot in the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings when it faces New Zealand in first of the three One-Day Internationals (ODIs), which starts on Wednesday in Mount Maunganui.

South Africa shares second position with India on 113 ratings point, but is ranked behind the reigning world champion by a fraction of the point. The two sides are just one ratings point behind Australia, and a 3-0 series will put South Africa ahead of the four-time world champion by one ratings point.

If South Africa manages to win all the three matches against New Zealand, then it will reclaim the number-one position for the first time in five years after handing over the baton to Australia following its first-round elimination from ICC Champions Trophy 2009.

On the other side of the coin, if New Zealand wins the series, then it will leapfrog Pakistan into sixth position. Currently, both Pakistan and New Zealand are on equal points on 98 ratings points but the Black Caps are in seventh position when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.

Meanwhile, AB de Villiers of South Africa goes into the forthcoming series as the number-one ranked batsman in the Reliance ICC ODI Player Rankings and he will be looking to build on his fine recent run of form as the Proteas and Black Caps continue their ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 preparations.

Virat Kohli’s recent progression up the rankings following a good series against the West Indies has pushed Hashim Amla into second position and the South Africa opener will be aiming to reduce the five-point deficit.

Overall, there are four South Africa batsmen inside the top 20, including de Villiers and Amla, with Quinton de Kock in ninth position and Francois du Plessis in 11th spot, just 19 ratings points behind his team-mate.

New Zealand’s top-ranked batsman is Ross Taylor who sits in 10th place in the current rankings. There are two more New Zealanders inside the top 20, namely Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill and be eyeing positive improvements in their home series. Skipper Brendon McCullum lies 20 ratings points adrift of his team-mate Guptill.

On the Reliance ICC Players Rankings for ODI Bowlers, South African paceman and LG ICC People’s Choice award nominee, Dale Steyn, will go into the series as the top-ranked bowler in third place, while ninth placed Ryan McLaren is a point adrift of Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez. Kyle Mills is Black Caps’ leading bowler in 13th place, with Tim Southee lying a solitary ratings point outside the top 20.

Incidentally, Mount Maunganui, which is hosting the first two ODIs on Tuesday and Friday, will debut as an international venue this week. The third ODI will be played in Hamilton which will host South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Pool B clash with Zimbabwe on 15 February. Co-hosts New Zealand will also return to the north island city to face Bangladesh on 13 March.

Meanwhile, India’s players have made gains in the latest rankings following their 2-1 series win over West Indies.

Kohli has benefitted the most following his series contribution of 191 runs, which included a top score of 127 in the final match of the series in Dharamsala, as he has climbed one place into second position and 16 points off the top spot.

West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels has leaped 20 places to 41st after compiling the highest series aggregate of 254 runs with two centuries. India’s Ajinkya Rahane is the other major mover in the batting rankings, moving up nine places to 59th position.

Amongst the bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is also one the nominees for the LG People’s Choice Award, has shown the most improvement by breaking into the top 10 for the first time by climbing seven places to seventh, just three point off his compatriot Ravindra Jadeja.

Mohammed Shami ended the series as the most successful bowler with 10 for 174, following on from a fine recent series in England where he claimed eight for 152. Shami has vaulted five places to 16th and in doing so he has broken into the top 20 for the first time in his career.

Jerome Taylor was the West Indies’ leading wicket-taker in the series and his tally of five for 181 in the three ODIs and has helped him return to the bowlers’ table in 143rd position. Andre Russell was another significant advancer and has climbed seven places to joint 63rdposition after claiming two wickets in the series.

The ICC Player Rankings for all rounders sees Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez lead the way with a significant 24-point gap over Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews.

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