Sangakkara can lay down a gauntlet to Ponting and Kallis

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Dubai, Dec 17 (UNI) Sri Lanka's run machine Kumar Sangakkara has one more chance to put some space between him and Ricky Ponting at the top of the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen this week as he prepares for the third and final Test against England at Galle.

Currently the two are sharing top spot, locked on 936 ratings points, and with South Africa's Jacques Kallis just one point behind in third position, the heat is on.

Although the weather may play a part in the match with the ground already having been drenched by rain in recent days, Sangakkara will be hoping he can continue the sort of form that led him to scoring a record four innings in excess of 150 runs in consecutive matches.

But with Ponting about to embark on a Test series against India, Sangakkara knows it is now or never and he will want to lay down a gauntlet to the Australia captain by taking top spot on his own.

Ponting will leads his side into a four-match series against Anil Kumble's India, starting with the Melbourne Test on December 26. He will have to perform very well just to maintain his current rating but the opportunity is there to move ahead once again.

The 32-year-old Tasmanian could even improve upon his career-best rating of 942 points that he achieved against England at Adelaide last year. If he did that he could even move into second place in the all-time rankings, ahead of England's Len Hutton and behind Australian legend Don Bradman.

Kallis, too, has the chance to stake his claim for the number-one position. The Proteas take on the West Indies in a three-Test series, starting in Port Elizabeth on 26 December and with Kallis in the form of his life, who would be brave enough to bet against the 32-year-old Capetonian? England captain Michael Vaughan has the opportunity to return to the top 20 of the batting rankings for the first time since 2004. He is currently on 606 ratings points, still a long way adrift of his best, 876, which he achieved against Australia following the Sydney Test in 2003.

With Kevin Pietersen (sixth), Paul Collingwood (15th), Ian Bell (17th) and Alistair Cook (18th) already ahead of him, Vaughan can ensure that England has its top five batsmen all in the top 20.

In the rankings for Test bowlers, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan is so far ahead of his nearest rival that no matter what happens at Galle, that is not going to change. But team-mate Chaminda Vaas can move up a place or two from his current position of 14th as he has Andrew Flintoff of England and India's Zaheer Khan in his sights.

UNI

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