India eyes 2nd spot in ICC Test Rankings as they take on Aussies

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Melbourne, Dec 25 (UNI) India is eyeing second position in the LG ICC Test Championship table as it goes head-to-head with Australia in a four-Test series starting here from tomorrow.

India, which is on a high after its 1-0 win over traditional rivals Pakistan last month, is currently on equal points with South Africa and Sri Lanka on 109 but behind the two teams when ratings points are calculated beyond the decimal point.

But Anil Kumble's side can take an outright lead if it manages to score three rating points in Australia from the 11 available points as only a maximum of two rating points are in the offing for Graeme Smith's side.

India can collect the required three points even if Ricky Ponting's side clinches the four-Test series 2-1. A drawn series, be it 0-0, 1-1 or 2-2 will give India five ratings points and will put it on 113 points.

The visitors will pick up a bagful of points if they manage to beat Australia. A 1-0 or 2-1 win will put India on 116 points, 2-0 or 3-1 victory will earn it eight points, 3-0 win will place it on 119 points and a 4-0 triumph will help it pocket 11 points.

On the other side of the coin, if India is defeated in the series by a heavier margin, it will lose its current standing.

A 4-0 win for Australia will put India in fifth place behind South Africa, Sri Lanka and England while a 3-0 defeat will drop it to fourth place.

Australia, in contrast, can earn two rating points if it wins 4-0 but will concede as many as 13 points if India wins all four.

A shuffle of ICC Player Rankings is on the cards as Australia captain Ricky Ponting and South Africa's Jacques Kallis fight for the prized top batting slot and South Africa's Dale Steyn, Australia's fast bowler Stuart Clark and Brett Lee, West Indies' Corey Collymore and India's Zaheer Khan target upward movement in the bowlers' list.

Australia's Mike Hussey, who is currently ranked fifth behind Ponting, Kallis, Sangakkara and Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf, has an excellent chance to become the 24th batsman in history to reach the 900-mark. The left-hander requires just 26 points to earn that rare distinction.

Besides Hussey, India's Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman and Australia's Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist will also be aiming for an upward progress.

Clarke and Dravid are currently ranked 11th and 12th and will be aiming to break into top 10 while only one ratings point separates Hayden from seventh-placed Kevin Pietersen of England.

Gilchrist on 16th place has New Zealand's Stephen Fleming firmly in his sights whereas Tendulkar and Ganguly are on 18th and 19th positions respectively. For Ganguly, it is his best ranking since 2000.

Among the Test bowlers, Australia's pace duo of Clark and Lee are at their career peaks, with both having a chance of making the top three by series end.

Indian skipper Anil Kumble currently occupies fifth place, Collymore is the lone West Indies' bowler in the top 20 and is being chased by India's Zaheer Khan.

The schedule for the Australia- India Test series: 26-30 Dec: first Test, Melbourne 2-6 Jan: second Test, Sydney 16-20 Jan: third Test, Perth 24-28 Jan:fourth Test, Adelaide.

UNI

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