Four teams fighting for second place in ICC Test Championship

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Kolkata, Nov 29 (UNI) Second place in the LG ICC Test Championship chart is up for grabs over the next few weeks as no fewer than four teams could snatch that position, depending on how the India vs Pakistan and Sri Lanka vs England series pan out.

England is the current occupier of that rank but its place is under pressure with both India and Sri Lanka capable of overtaking it if they do well in their respective three-Test series.

And depending on results, even South Africa could sneak into second spot ahead of its own Test series against the West Indies, which gets underway on December 26 in Port Elizabeth.

As the second Test between India and Pakistan begins tomorrow here, India is already 1-0 up in the series and could finish on 112 points, one more than England's current tally if it wins the series 3-0.

Michael Vaughan's team has the chance to maintain its place behind leaders Australia provided it can prevail in its series, which begins on Saturday in Kandy.

Mahela Jayawardena and his men will know that a good showing for them could propel them from their current position of fifth right into second. Such is the congested nature of the table that just six points separate England in second and Sri Lanka in fifth.

But no team can come close to knocking Australia off its perch as it is currently 32 points clear at the top.

There are opportunities too for individuals to make a mark on the LG ICC Player Rankings. Kumar Sangakkara will be looking to continue his upward trend as he puts pressure on Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis at the top of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen.

The 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman is enjoying his highest rating to date and is just 17 points behind Ponting in top spot, who is a point clear of Kallis.

Following a good showing by England's Kevin Pietersen in a warm-up match against the Sri Lanka Cricket Board President's XI, it seems the hard-hitting batsman is in good form. He currently lies in sixth position, just two points behind Australia's Michael Hussey and 19 points behind Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan.

There will also be opportunities for Jayawardena (12th), Paul Collingwood (16th) and Alistair Cook (17th) to reinforce their positions in the top 20.

Muttiah Muralitharan is the undisputed leader in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers and the only man on the list with more than 900 ratings points. He now needs just four wickets to draw level with Australia's Shane Warne as the highest wicket-taker of all time.

The only other bowler playing in the Sri Lanka vs England series in the top ten is Matthew Hoggard in tenth position while Monty Panesar (15th), Chaminda Vaas (16th) and Steve Harmison (23rd) will be anxious to improve on their rankings.

LG ICC Test Championship: 1. Australia (143); 2. England (111); 3. South Africa (109); 4. India (107); 5. Sri Lanka (105); 6. Pakistan (96); 7. New Zealand (91); 8. West Indies (72); 9. Bangladesh (65).

Top 10 Batsmen: 1. Ricky Ponting (Aus) 936; 2. Jacques Kallis (SA) (935); 3. Kumar Sangakkara (SL) 919; 4. Mohd. Yousuf (Pak) 891; 5. Mike Hussey (Aus) (874); 6. Kevin Pietersen (Eng) 872; 7. Matthew Hayden (Aus) 803; 8. Younis Khan (Pak) 794; 9. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI) 762; 10. Michael Clarke (Aus) 751.

Top 10 Bowlers: 1. Muttiah Muralitharan (SL) 904; 2. Makhaya Ntini (SA) 808; 3. Dale Steyn (SA) 775; 4. Stuart Clark (Aus) 769; 5. Anil Kumble (Ind) 732; 6. Brett Lee (Aus) 726; 7. Shane Bond (NZ) (724); 8. Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 717; 9. Shaun Pollock (SA) 701; 10. Matthew Hoggard (Eng) 700.

Top 5 All-rounders: 1. Jacques Kallis (SA) 551; 2. Andrew Flintoff (Eng) 361; 3. Shaun Pollock (SA) 329; 4. Daniel Vettori (NZ) 316; 5. Chaminda Vaas (SL) 256.

UNI

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