Kumble rises two spots to 5th, Laxman returns to top 20

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Kolkata, Nov 29 (UNI) Kotla hero and India captain Anil Kumble rose two places to fifth among bowlers while teammate VVS Laxman returned to the top 20 among batsmen for the first time in three years in the latest released LG ICC Test Player Rankings.

Kumble, in his debut Test as captain, had bowled his team to a six-wicket victory in the first Test against Pakistan that gives India a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series and was adjudged man-of-the-match for his 7/106.

The 37-year-old leg spinner, who also contributed 24 with the bat in the first innings, narrows the gap behind team-mate and eighth-placed Irfan Pathan to four points in the LG ICC Player Rakings for Test all-rounders released yesterday.

Laxman, who scored an unbeaten 72 in his team's first innings total of 276, climbs two places to the 20th position. He returns to the top 20 for the first time since October 2004 when he was there during the home series against Australia.

The 33-year-old stylish batsman now has South Africa captain Graeme Smith in 19th spot in his sights. Smith's next Test appearance will be against the West Indies in the Boxing Day Test in Port Elizabeth, which means if the Hyderabadi batsman carries his good form into the next two Tests against Pakistan, he has every chance of overtaking the Proteas' skipper.

Wasim Jaffer and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the Indian batsmen on the rise. Jaffer, who scored 32 and 53, jumps two places to 40th position -- the first time he has achieved this ranking in his career, while Dhoni also improves his ranking by two places to 41st after scoring 57 in the first innings.

Rahul Dravid is the highest-ranked Indian batsman in 11th position while Sachin Tendulkar is 18th and Sourav Ganguly is in 28th spot after dropping one position.

For Pakistan, the only consolation from the New Delhi Test defeat was Misbah-ul-Haq's jump from the 88th position to the 66th spot among batsmen.

Misbah stood tall in an otherwise ordinary batting display by the tourists, scoring 82 and 45 in his two innings.

Mohammad Yousuf maintains his fourth position but innings of 27 and 18 means he loses 17 points. This widens the gap between him and third-placed Kumar Sangakkara to 28 points and also means that Australia's Mike Hussey and England's Kevin Pietersen are just 17 and 19 points adrift respectively.

Younis Khan, the only other Pakistan batsman in the top 30, drops one place to eighth spot while Kamran Akmal falls four places to 34th and captain Shoaib Malik slips six place to the 51st position.

Shoaib Akhtar, who had match figures of 6/102 in what was his first Test in 11 months, strengthens his position in the top 10 of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers by rising two places to eighth.

Akhtar will now be targeting seventh-placed Shane Bond and eighth-placed Brett Lee who are within striking distance of the Pakistan fast bowler.

Mohammad Asif (not available in the series because of an elbow injury) and Danish Kaneria retain their places in the 17th and 14th positions but Umar Gul, who also missed the first Test due to a sore back, drops out of the top 20 to the 22nd position while Mohammad Sami slips two places to 42nd spot.

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