India clings on to fourth place in LG ICC Test table

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Dubai, Jan 2 (UNI) Despite losing the first Test at MCG, India continued to stay put at fourth position in the LG ICC Test ranking issued today.

India captain Anil Kumble, riding on his impressive five wicket haul in the first Test in Melbourne jumped to the fourth position, while injured pacer Zaheer Khan is at 13th place.

Meanwhile, New Zealand can close the gap on sixth-placed Pakistan if it wins series 2-0 against Bangladesh.

Having beaten Bangladesh 3-0 in the recent ODI series New Zealand will be aiming to bring that momentum forward into the two Tests against the same opposition, the first of which starts in Dunedin on Friday. And a 2-0 series win over Mohammad Ashraful's side will help the Black Caps close the gap on sixth-placed Pakistan.

New Zealand is currently placed seventh in the Test Championship with 91 ratings points, three behind Pakistan and 19 ahead of eighth-placed West Indies, which is also involved in its series against South Africa.

If Daniel Vettori's side wins both the Tests, it will gain two ratings points which will reduce its gap with Pakistan to just one point while increasing the difference to 21 points with the West Indies.

On the other side of the coin, New Zealand will lose points if it fails to win 2-0.

It will surrender one ratings point even if it wins the series 1-0 while a 2-0 defeat will cost it 12 points and a 1-0 loss 10 points. A drawn series will bring it down to 86 points.

In contrast, Bangladesh, currently at the bottom of the table with four ratings points, will pocket 13 points for a 2-0 win, 10 points for a 1-0 win, five points for a drawn series and one point if it loses 1-0.

The only way Ashraful's side can suffer deductions is if it loses both the Tests. In that case, it will be docked two ratings points.

The ICC Test ranking is only updated at the conclusion of each series so the West Indies' recent victory over South Africa at Port Elizabeth is not yet reflected on the table.

New Zealand's former captain Stephen Fleming is the only batsman from either side in the top 20. Fleming is currently ranked 13th, 13 points adrift of England's Alistair Cook and six points ahead of India's Rahul Dravid. Struggling for form, Dravid is placed at 13th position.

Captain Daniel Vettori is the next best New Zealand batsman in 36th position. The left-hander, along with Jacob Oram (37th), Scott Styris (48th), Brendon McCullum (50th), Craig Cumming (60th) and Matthew Sinclair (61st) will all be hoping to make progress up the batting list.

For Bangladesh, captain Mohammad Ashraful is the highest ranked batsman in 46th position. Former captain Habibul Bashar (49th), Shahriar Nafees (51st), Rajin Saleh (62nd) and Mushfiqur Rahim (96th) are the other notable batsmen who will want to make an impression over the coming couple of weeks.

In the player rankings for Test bowlers, New Zealand can boast three pacers in the top 20 list. However, Chris Martin (18th) will be the highest ranked bowler to figure in the forthcoming series in the absence of Shane Bond (seventh) and James Franklin (16th).

Vettori is ranked 24th but a good performance with the ball can help him leapfrog England's Steve Harmison, Pakistan's Umar Gul and India's Irfan Pathan. Only eight ratings points separate Vettori from 21st placed Harmison.

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is Bangladesh's highest ranked bowler in 37th place and he has a good opportunity get ahead of England's James Anderson, who leads the Bangladesh fast bowler by three ratings points.

In the ICC player rankings for Test all-rounders, Vettori has an excellent chance to swap places with third-placed Shaun Pollock of South Africa. Vettori is six points behind the South African who has not played a Test since the match against Pakistan at Port Elizabeth in January 2007.

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